Justin John Boudin is a 27-year-old in St. Paul, Minnesota, who lost his temper at a bus stop in August 2007. According to witnesses, he harassed a 59-year-old woman, yelling, “Why don’t you show me some respect?” When she took out her cell phone to call police, he punched her in the face. A 63-year-old man tried to stop him and also got hit. Then Boudin ran away, but he dropped a folder as he ran. Police used the papers inside the folder to track him. They contained his name and his anger management homework. He was supposedly on his way to class. After this episode he had plenty of time in jail to do extra homework, after pleading guilty to fifth-degree assault charges.
How are you doing in your own efforts to manage anger? I hope you haven’t slugged any strangers lately or even had to enroll in a class like Boudin’s, but I am sure you struggle with anger. We all do! Anger is a natural response when things don’t go our way or the way we perceive things should go. I would dare to say that anger is neither good nor bad. It is what we do with it or allow it to do with us that becomes good or bad. We all know anger can be the fuel to prompt some very bad behavior, even murderous violence. But, did you know it can also be energy for doing good?
It may surprise you that even Jesus was angry. Mark 3:5 describes Jesus looking at his opponents “in anger.” He was distressed at their stubborn hearts as they watched carefully to see if He would heal a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath. If He did, they would accuse Him of breaking the law. Instead of allowing His anger to propel him in destructive ways, however, Jesus responded by healing the man. Some even say he channeled his anger into constructive action. His opponents, on the other hand, began to plot how they might kill Jesus (Mark 3:6). John 11:33 can also be translated to indicate Jesus was angry. At the tomb of Lazarus, He could have been angry at the power of the devil in the death of his friend, or at the false mourners. We don’t know which, but we do know He again did something constructive. He raised Lazarus from the dead.
James 1:19 urges us to be “slow to become angry.” In Ephesians 4:26-27 Paul admits we will be angry. “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” In 4:31, he urges that we “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…”
So, what to do with anger? I doubt you can heal someone or raise the dead, but you can take a walk or run several miles. You’ll be healthier. You can count to ten…or to a thousand. You can respond to injustice with patient, intelligent, deliberate efforts to right the wrongs, bring justice to the mistreated and share the load of the oppressed. Anger might even become your friend, if you can “get rid” of it in the right way. Don’t suppress it; use it to the glory of God!
Article copyright (c) 2009 by Charles G. Mickey. All rights reserved.