“’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” — Ephesians 4:26
I’ve been thinking a lot about this verse, because I’m really angry. I’m not just angry at those who have acted cruelly lately. Blatant injustice in general burns me up, whether related to race, economics, sexual abuse or anything else. For most of us, as fellow humans, we don’t like to see brutality happen right in front of our eyes.
This is not just about the events that happened in Minneapolis with the police killing of George Floyd. I’m angry because this is the tip of the iceberg. As black people living in America, we aren’t afforded the luxury of not seeing race in every circumstance. The way we were brought into this country and the way we’re often treated in it still today — policies that are made, individual acts of violence that are carried out, residential segregation, the wealth gap (the average black family makes one-tenth of what the average white family does), you name it — isn’t easy. And much of it is hidden. When I think of all these layers of injustice, I feel despair. This is our reality because people have made it this way. So how do we tackle something like this?
I’m angry because some people don’t acknowledge this as an issue. They disregard history, and I’m not talking about hundreds of years ago, I’m talking about yesterday and backward. With social media, we’re able to see a lot of what people think; some of it’s great and some of it’s ugly. Over the past three weeks I’ve found myself discouraged and despondent. I can’t honestly say I’ve had a lot of positive feelings about the situation of America, as well as us as individuals within it.
At all times, in all circumstances, our actions and reactions are vitally important. As Christ-followers, there’s a certain way we need to carry ourselves in the midst of injustice. We have a responsibility to do so. Our primary goal in this life is to bring God glory. That doesn’t mean we don’t address the issues of our day or engage in civic debate. As citizens and members of our specific communities, we should not remove ourselves from the situations that desperately need our attention. It does mean we have a mandate to engage in a way that brings glory to God and ultimately points people toward Him and the things He cares about. We are to do so in a way that is different than those who don’t know Him.
Being a Christ-follower doesn’t mean we can’t get angry. Jesus got angry. God was angry a whole lot of times! But the Bible does say, “In your anger do not sin.” Do not allow your anger to make you do or say something that is contrary to what you should be doing as a follower of Christ. We are to be justice warriors, but our method in doing so needs to be distinctly Christlike.
— Benjamin Watson, former NFL tight end
Benjamin Watson is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing articles and opinions. Check out Benjamin’s Increase profile here.
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