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Is Mad Always Bad

When was the last time you were good and mad? No, you didn't misread that. A person can be good at the same time they are mad! I know that is true because of the Holy Spirit inspired words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:26-27— "Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil." That passage does not say, "Never be angry," and, to tell you the truth, I am glad! Because sometimes I find myself just plain old mad! The verse says, 'Be angry." God Himself is angryat times, and there are certain things that always evoke His anger and wrath. Consider Psalm 7:11— "God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day." In a similar vein, in Romans 1:18 the apostle Paul tells us of God's settled and consistent and negative reaction to ungodliness —"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." Now, I can assure you that God's anger and wrath is NOT the same kind of flash in the pan anger that flares so often and so easily in so many people's lives. God does not get "ticked off" because somebody broke in front of Him at the Walmart check-out or cut Him off in traffic or changed the channel away from His favorite TV show. He does not "blow a fuse" or "lose His cool" because somebody is five minutes late for a meeting or sat at the traffic light through the green arrow till it changed back to red. No sir, no ma'am, no way. Mad is not bad when we are talking about God's anger. If God is always angry about wickedness and ungodliness, maybe it wouldn't hurt things any if we could get and stay a little more angry about that kind of stuff, too. Moses was mad but not bad when he came down from Sinai and found Israel indulging in idolatry and immorality. Exodus 32:19 spells it out — "Moses' anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain." Take time to read the 18 verses before verse 19 and you will find Moses was mad at the same things God was mad at! In John 2:13ff Jesus was mad but not bad. He cleared the temple and expressed His holy outrage at the moneychangers' disrespect for God and holy things. And He didn't say, "Excuse Me, guys, can we dialog about this?" No. He made a whip of cords, drove them, and said, "Get the devil out of here! Stop putting holy things up for sale, you religious frauds" (Dan Gulley paraphrase). 

Now back to the passage in Ephesians 4. After telling us to be angry but sin not, the passage strongly hints that our anger is often very unlike God's and places us at great spiritual risk. Remember? ". .. do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil." The truth is that the anger that builds up in most of us is bad — not bad because we are angry, but bad because so often our anger is a selfish and ungodly and destructive type of anger; anger that is allowed to burst forth in awful words and deeds we later regret but cannot recall or undo. A lady came to Billy Sunday and tried to rationalize her angry outbursts. "There's nothing wrong with me losing my temper," she said. "I blow up, and then it's all over." Sunday replied, "So does a shotgun, and look at the damage it leaves behind." So, if you must be mad, make sure you are good and mad. Otherwise, being mad will also make you bad. Think about it.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ