In my salad days, my anger was something to behold. I dug indignation and had impatience down pat. Seriously, the Incredible Hulk in all his emerald green, rage-filled glory had nothing on me when I was really worked up.
And why was I so furious? It varied from day to day—sometimes hour to hour. A group of friends chose to go somewhere without me? Rage! I didn’t get something I thought I deserved? Blow a fuse! Slights both real and perceived were given equal room to fester, and sometimes, if the conditions were right, I’d get mad just because I felt like it.
And did all that ire and gall change my life for the better? Not in the least.
That’s why when we came across Brant Hansen’s new book Unoffendable, I knew including an article from him on the topic would be a good idea. Why? Because we’re all way better at self-righteous anger than we should be. The Greeks were tops when it came to logic; the Romans perfected war (and other things like roads and aqueducts…let’s be fair). The British mastered the art of the stiff upper lip. And Americans? Man, we get gold stars across the board for righteous indignation. If anger was like an episode of Kung Fu, we’d be Master Kan all the way.
But as believers, we can’t be proud of our prowess because Christ calls us to patience and longsuffering. We are meant to die to ourselves—and that means giving up our anger, not nursing it. We simply do not have the right to it because our lives were bought and paid for by One who eschewed anger. Instead, in the greatest moment of suffering imaginable, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
It is easy to give in to fury, but the Lord has something so much better in mind. “Instead of being mastered by anger,” Hansen writes in his article, “we can forgive—not because our offenders did something to deserve our sacrifice, but because God did.” When you think about it that way, it’s a little harder to get yourself in a dither over the unkind words or thoughtless actions of others.
That’s why, these days, rather than emulate Dr. Bruce Banner’s bad side, I’m more inclined to agree with Helen Burns, a character in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. When Jane asks Helen why she puts up with the cruelty of others without fighting back, Helen replies:
Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs. We are, and must be, one and all, burdened with faults in this world: but the time will soon come when, I trust, we shall put them off in putting off our corruptible bodies; when debasement and sin will fall from us with this cumbrous frame of flesh, and only the spark of the spirit will remain—the impalpable principle of light and thought—pure as when it left the Creator to inspire the creature.
Read Brant Hansen’s article, “No Offense,” in the current issue of In Touch Magazine.