Love is Greater than Anger

Vijay Krishnan   -  

This past week’s message took a close look at the issue of anger; specifically, how one of the definitions of love that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13 is “not easily angered”. Anger is, often, far too easy for us to go to, whether outwardly with words and tone, or inwardly with thoughts and unexpressed feelings. Since Anger is, however, a more surface emotion (because it’s easy to go to quickly, feels “safer” to express), we were encouraged to look underneath anger to better understand ourselves. More importantly, looking underneath is a way of inviting God to explore all that is in our heart and mind, to bring his healing and truth and wisdom and love into our lives. And that is our goal for this week. Whether anger has become a habitual go-to in your life, or it rears its head from time to time (and at all the wrong times!), this is an issue worth exploring.


Day 1: Quick to listen…to God

Read: James 1:19-20

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires

Quick to listen and slow to speak. That’s the apostle James’ advice when it comes to anger. But this isn’t just about our relationships with others. We worship a God who speaks, but often we are too busy speaking to others, or even speaking to him (in our prayers) to realize that He has things to say to us. We were encouraged at the end of last week’s message to take more regular time to be silent. Silence helps us become more aware of the swirling and noisy thoughts and emotions under the surface of our lives. Silence also prepares us to hear God speak into those things. To let his ideas, emotions and opinions enter and influence our lives. Today we will take a few minutes to do that.

Begin: Pray this prayer from Psalm 139:23-24, slowly, three times in a row:

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting

Take: 5 minutes to be silent. Set a timer. Close your eyes and simply focus on breathing slowly. Don’t be surprised if busy and anxious thoughts come to the surface. You’ve already asked God to search them. Think of this as a way of you opening a door to let him search your mind and heart.

Ask: Lord, is there anything you have seen or found in my heart and mind that you want to talk to me about? If anything comes to mind (recurring thought, person, conversation or circumstance), ask him “what do you want to say to me about that?”. Wait for his response. It may take a few minutes. After a bit, whether you hear something or not, write a prayer of response to Him.

Respond: In worship. This song is a poetic rendition of the whole of Psalm 139. It’s an affirmation that there is no place where God is not; whether we are running away from him (high or low) or whether we feel like we’re in a place unreachable by Him, the truth is that He is with us. He has been with us since birth, and will be to the end. As you listen, take comfort in His presence today.


Day 2: Quick to listen…to others

Take: 5 minutes to be silent. Set a timer, focus on breathing slowly. Don’t stress or analyze the thoughts and feelings that come to the surface. If it helps to focus, you can simply breath in “Jesus”, and breathe out “thank you for being here today”.

Read: James 1:19-20

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires

James tells us, quite frankly, that when we are slow to listen, quick to speak and quick to get angry, it doesn’t produce very good results. Our anger leads to other things we don’t really want (stressed or strained relationships, words we didn’t mean, actions we can’t take back, physical toll on our bodies) and it gets in the way of letting God do his work in a given situation or relationship.

Think back to a recent conversation or interaction with someone close to you (friend, colleague, spouse, parent, child, sibling) where there were angry words or angry thoughts (before, during or afterwards). A situation where, whether or not the other person realized it, you knew you were angry.

Ask yourself these questions about that interaction/situation:

  • How many genuine questions did you ask?
  • Who did more of the talking?
  • if they were upset or had an argument to make, could you articulate it on their behalf (what were they expressing)?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how good of a listener do you think they would say you are?
  • Is there anything you said that you perhaps need to go apologize for?
  • Is there anything you didn’t say in terms of blessing, affirmation or love that you could tell them or write to them?

If there is anything from the above reflection that you need to act on, consider doing that now or blocking time in your calendar in the next 24 hours to do it.

Close with a prayer that asks the Holy Spirit to guide your words and actions, and to help you in this relationship.


Day 3: Acknowledging Grief & Loss

One of the things that most often lies under the surface of our angry thoughts or responses, is grief and loss – some of it unacknowledged. Read how Peter Scazzero in “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” describes it:

Our culture routinely interprets losses as alien invasions that interrupt our “normal” lives. We numb our pain through denial, blaming, rationalizations, addictions, and avoidance. We search for spiritual shortcuts around our wounds. We demand others take away our pain. Yet we all face many deaths within our lives. The choice is whether these deaths will be terminal (crushing our spirit and life) or open us up to new possibilities and depths of transformation in Christ…

 Most of us experience our losses more slowly, over the span of a lifetime, until we find ourselves on the door of death, leaving everything behind.

 We lose our youthfulness. No amount of plastic surgery, cosmetics, good diet, or exercise routine can stop the process of growing older.

 We lose our dreams. Who has not lost dreams, dreams of a career or marriage or children for which we hoped?

 We lose our routines and stability in transitions. Each time we change jobs, immigrate to a new country, or move is a loss.

 Our children grow more independent and more powerful as they move through their life transitions. Our influence and power decrease.

 Our parents age, and we become their caretakers.

 Most of us, in one or more moments of our lives, experience catastrophic loss. Unexpectedly, a family member dies. A friend or son commits suicide. Our spouse has an affair. We find ourselves single again after a painful divorce or breakup. We are diagnosed with cancer. Our company suddenly downsizes and we find ourselves unemployed after twenty-five years of stable employment. Our child is born severely handicapped. A loyal friend betrays us. Infertility, miscarriages, broken friendships, loss of memory or mental acuity, abuse…

Finally, we lose our wrong ideas of God and the church. (Thank God!)…We feel betrayed by a church tradition, a leader, or even God himself. We realize God truly is much larger and more incomprehensible than we thought. We lose our illusions about this new family of Jesus, the church. It is not the perfect family with perfect people as we expected. In fact, people disappoint us. At times,we are bewildered and shocked by their lack of awareness and sin (evil). Every person who lives in community with other believers, sooner or later, experiences this disillusionment and the grief that accompanies it.

Scazzero, Peter. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life In Christ (pp. 135-137). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

As you read that excerpt, perhaps there are one or two particular losses described that you can directly relate to. At the very least, through this global pandemic, we have all lost a sense of stability, predictability, control or safety.

When we take time to acknowledge (think about, reflect on, cry about, articulate to God and others) our losses, it takes some of the steam out of our anger; we have less reason to express anger because we are expressing the deeper and more vulnerable emotions of pain and loss.

For the next few minutes, we will exercise our imaginations in taking these losses to Jesus, and inviting him to grieve with us.

Close your eyes, and slow your breathing down. Imagine you are looking down at your hands as they cupped together and open; in your hands you see the thing that you have lost, that you are grieving. It’s likely far too big to actually fit in your hands, but imagine a word, a small picture frame, a name or an object that represents your loss.

Now you look up and in your mind’s eye, a bit of a distance away, you see a cross; you know it’s Jesus’ cross and He is on it. You begin to walk slowly towards his cross, carrying your loss in your hands. As you walk, let yourself feel the weight of it. How heavy is it? How long have you been carrying it? Perhaps, if you have shared this loss with others, or they have experienced it as well, you see them beside you, carrying it and walking with you towards Jesus.

As you come close to Jesus, He sees you. He asks you -simply – how do you feel about that?

You finally allow yourself to express your feelings about this. If you’re angry, you express your anger to him; maybe even your anger with God. If you’re sad, you cry, you cry out; perhaps it feels so heavy and you fall to your knees, tired of carrying it.

And there you sit. At the foot of the cross, grieving. You look up and see that Jesus is grieving too. He says “I’m angry for you too. I’m crying and crying out for you too. I know what it is to suffer loss. I understand”.

Express any final words you have to Jesus. Ask him to continue to help you grieve this loss.

In the days and weeks to come, you may find it helpful to do this mental exercise a few more times. Make a well-worn path between your pain and his cross.


Day 4: Lord, I’m angry about…

Read: Ephesians 4:26-27

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

Being angry is not a sin. The above passage clearly makes a distinction between the two. Paul in his description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 echoes that same idea by encouraging us not to get angry easily.

Anger is an emotion. An important one; a natural one. It is also inevitable, when we feel wronged, victimized or attacked. In fact, if we don’t feel any anger in those situations, it’s likely a sign that our emotional life is not healthy; not fully functioning.

But Paul in the letter to the Ephesians (same writer as the letter to the Corinthians), tells us to be careful that when we are angry, we do not sin. Anger isn’t just easy. It can easily lead to sin. A very sobering reason he gives us is that when we sin, we are creating space for the Devil to take up residence in our life. That sounds all Stephen King, I know. It simply means that we are giving evil more influence in our lives the more we sin.

So how do we “not sin” when we are angry?

As with all our other emotions, we first take them to God.

He knows we are angry anyway.

He knows why, and understands our anger and the situation or relationship it comes from even better than we do.

He is also the God who is “slow to anger” – it’s how he introduces himself (Exodus 34:6).

So…is there any person or situation you are angry about/with? Maybe it’s obvious to you. You’ve expressed it. You had a fight. You wrote a text. You posted something.

Maybe it’s not obvious. But what have you been thinking about over and over? Any “anger fantasies” in your head lately? Things you’d say to that person? Stuff you write in response to that Instagram post? If you had the mic…

Okay, so, out with it! Except say it or write it to God.

God, I can’t believe…

God, I’m so upset with…

God, I can’t take _____ any longer

God, if he/she says ________ one more time, …

Once you’ve finished writing this out, ask Jesus this question:

Lord, have I sinned in any of my thoughts or expressions of anger?

Either in how I’m thinking, or why I’m angry, or what I’m forgetting in my anger?

Have I asked your opinion on this situation?

 Whatever comes to mind, take time to confess any sin or pray for help in any temptation to sin (in your anger) to Him.

Ask him:

 Lord, is there something I need to see or better understand about this situation or person?

 Can you give me more of your compassionate, gracious, slow-to-anger, and abounding-in-love heart?

 End your time with 3-5 minutes of silence (set your time, breathe slowly), with your palms open and upward facing, in a posture of receiving what you have just asked for.


Day 5: Not Angry Enough

Read: Isaiah 1:10-17

Hear the word of the Lord… “The multitude of your sacrifices—

what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?

Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being.

They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!

Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.


God is mad, yo!

This is a stunning passage. In short, God is angry and disgusted and wants no more worship. Just shut the church doors. No more songs, celebrations, religious observances. Listen to what he says about them:

“They are meaningless”

“I hate them”

“they are detestable to me”

Let’s be honest. There are many things we get angry about.

We are offended at the way others treat us.

We are angry with people who block our goals or make life difficult for us.

We are angry with our friends.

We are angry with our kids.

We are angry with our government.

We are angry with our parents.

We are angry at “The system”.

But as we have explored this past week, our anger is often misplaced, misguided, too long, too harsh and it can lead us to sin. If we’re honest, we are angry for selfish reasons, or for the wrong reasons, or with the wrong person or for the wrong amount of time.

But there is another kind of anger that we should think about.

Pay attention to. And even, share.

It’s God’s anger. But what is God angry with, about?

From Isaiah’s passage above (And many others in Scripture) the answer to that question is clear and simple:

God is angry about injustice – towards women, children and the oppressed.

And God is angry with His people when they aren’t angry about it too.

My dear friends, let’s be honest. We are far too angry about too many things that God does not want us to be angry about. And we are not angry enough about the things that anger and pain the heart of God.

These days we are angry about, and consumed by, the global pandemic. Understandable. In the last year, over 2 million people around the world have died from this disease that, up to this point, is unpreventable. And we are angry that more isn’t being done. Angry that too much is being done. Too much of the wrong things are being done.

But in this same time frame, consider these numbers:

  • Nearly 50 million unborn children were aborted around the world (, WHO statistics)
  • Over 3 million children under the age of 5 died of malnutrition (UNICEF)
  • 40.3 million around the world are slaves, more than any time in history; most are women and children who are trafficked as sex slaves (

Are we angry? We should be.

I’ve seen and heard pastors and churches and Christians who are angry about not being able to worship in person in these days. I’ve been mad about it too. But according to the passage above: God hates our in-person worship gathering when we are not angry about, consumed with, and actively involved in alleviating injustice; helping the oppressed, women and children who are being used up and stamped out by the world. More to the point, our lack of anger and concern and involvement in justice proves to some degree that our songs and sermons and sacraments are empty.

Church, we need to be angry. About the things that anger the heart of God. And I’ll be honest, I’m not angry enough. Not enough to pray every day. Not enough to advocate as often as I advocate for my own rights. Not enough to give more to end poverty and injustice than I spend on Amazon for me and my family.

This is hard to hear, I know. It’s hard to write.

Take some time today, as I will, to:

  1. Confess to God my lack of concern for, anger with and involvement in the issues of injustice
  2. Ask for mercy for me and my church; to help us care about the things that are close to God’s heart
  3. Mobilize the church around the world – to stop being selfish and angry with the wrong things – to be creative and relentless in our pursuit of justice on behalf of those who need it.