When anger=sin it becomes utmostly important to never appear frustrated so…
When anger=sin we only speak about sin to others and not the one we accuse because…
When anger=sin gossip is necessary to avoid “sinful” confrontations. The problem is…
ANGER DOES NOT EQUAL SIN!
There are some questions in the Bible that are not clearly answered, but this is not one of them, not only was Paul quite clear in: Ephesians 4:26 “In your anger do not sin”; but Jesus Himself demonstrated anger and frustration regularly and quite publicly:
“So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” -John 2:13
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” – Matthew 23:27
“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” – Matthew 23:33
Ironically in Romans 1 Paul makes a pretty comprehensive list of sins and while anger is not in there another sin is:
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…”
“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
While anger is clearly not in the list there are a few terms that are associated with anger that are: “insolent, arrogant and boastful”. These are worth discussing:
Matthew 16:23: “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’”
showing a rude and arrogant lack of respect.
In true Paulian translated to English form, there is a degree of redundancy here. However, a word-study – especially useful in such situations – makes it fairly clear that the Greek communciated more than the English translation. The Greek word is “hybristḗs” and Strong’s defines it this way: “This kind of individual delights in wrong-doing – finding pleasure in hurting others.” As is often the case the English definition comes far short of describing this properly. By the English definition Jesus was “insolent” toward Peter in Matthew 16:23 above, but by the Greek definition He lacked important characteristics to qualify for such an adjective. 1. He clearly did not “delight in wrong-doing”. 2. He clearly did not “find pleasure in hurting others.” Perhaps this is why alternate definitions and English synonyms of the word “insolent” includes “boldness” and “a very confident attitude or way of behaving that is shocking”.
having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.
There does not appear to be any reason to look any further into this term. To assume that one is demonstrating such a characteristic one must also assume to know how important or unimportant another is. In short, one must demonstrate arrogance to judge another as arrogant.
showing excessive pride and self-satisfaction in one’s achievements, possessions, or abilities.
Similar to arrogant above, this is a value judgment. What constitutes “excessive”? However, the Greek again doesn’t humor such a simplistic definition. “alazoneía” in Strong’s is specifically “empty” and quite similarly to “arrogant” in this context one would have to be pretty arrogant to determine whether someone’s claim is “empty” or not. For it’s only the empty sort that would be sinful and that because it’s a form of deception, lying.
casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.
At this point it is only fair that we look at what the Greek has to say about “gossip” as well: “psithyristḗs” means “whisperer”. “Quietly (secretly) destroying another person’s character. – i.e. covertly, not out in the open, but rather operating ‘in a corner.'”
As with most things spiritual there is no formula for flagging gossip either. The English definition does work, but whether or not the conversation is about details “confirmed as being true” or “destroying another person’s character” are often points of debate. One thing that is certain, any person overly concerned with their own image would choose “whispering” over “a very confident attitude or way of behaving that is shocking.”
I hope it is clear that I’m not trying to give you a formula, but Strong’s numbers and scripture are good ways to test your discernment. Exercising discernment is more of a leap of faith than a hard and fast formula. However, we get some pretty good clues along the way. Concerning gossip, while my suspicions may be heightened during a private conversation when someone shows an overt willingness to discuss other people’s inadequacies while beating around the bush about their/my own, I also find most do this to some degree. In fact there are sadly VERY few that will criticize the person in front of them and even fewer that appreciate such things.
What happens after the “whispering” is what is most telling. Are they willing to stand by their private words in public? Does their posture match their accusations? Do they seek out those people they slandered and try to resolve their conviction? Do they – do I – get to the man-to-man of it? If I’m not willing to speak my opinion to someone’s face then I should not be willing to “whisper” it either. I’m not sure I’d suggest this for everyone, but a trick I use is to warn folks that I have a “tough time remembering what’s a secret and what isn’t” and caution that: “if this is such a problem, I’ll probably talk to them about this pretty soon.” Trustworthy people don’t mind this so much, but deceptive people see all kinds of red flags with such warnings. Some will go so far as to accuse me of being untrustworthy, or claim that it is gossip to share with the person what was being said about them. It requires a fantastic stretch to claim that one can gossip to another about that very same person. Though deception is not characterized by its adherence to logic.
So hopefully there is a lot to take away here:
1. Anger is not sin by itself.
2. Several words mentioned above are insufficient in the English to represent the concepts from the Greek.
3. Gossip sucks.
4. Cowards suck.
5. Saying “suck” is not sinful. (definition: is bad, is rubbish)
6. We should all be more willing to discus ourselves and the person before us when meeting and less willing to discuss others.
7. If you’re really brave perhaps you should warn people upfront that you don’t keep secrets, especially about other people.
Next week I’ll discuss how deceptive posturing leads to self-inflicted wounds.