Then Jacob became angry and berated Laban. Jacob said to Laban, “What is my offense? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? For you have felt through all my goods; what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two. These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks. What was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you. I bore the loss of it myself. From my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. There I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.” Genesis 31:36-42 ESV
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14-21 ESV
There’s an old story about a wicked farmer who promised to pay any hired hand a potful of gold coins if he could work for him without getting angry. The older brother in a family worked for this man. The farmer made him work day and night and wouldn’t let him eat. The older brother tried not to get angry, but at last he did. Weak and worn out, he came home without any pay for all his hard work. Then the younger brother went to work for the farmer. He didn’t work, slept all the time, and played other tricks. The farmer eventually got very angry and had to pay the younger brother a potful of gold.
This story teaches that often, when we get angry, we put ourselves into the other person’s power. We also do and say things that dishonor God and hurt others. Jacob had some reasons to be very angry with Laban, but he didn’t honor God with his anger. He showed that he didn’t trust God to work things out for him. But God helped him, even in his anger, to remember that he had been with Jacob and helped him all along.
Sometimes there are good reasons to be angry. When God is being dishonored or people are being hurt by the wicked actions of others, getting angry can be right. But even then, God warns us not to stay angry. He hasn’t given us the responsibility to fix everything in the world that is wrong. God has a righteous anger that he directs against sin, and we need to leave even the worst sin in his hands.
God dealt with all the sins in the world, even the most horrible ones, at the cross. God poured out all his anger at all the sin and wickedness in the world on Jesus. Because of Jesus, God is always ready to heal and forgive. God forgives our sins, and helps us forgive others when they sin against us. When we get angry, we can go to God for healing and help. He will help us and forgive us, and help us pass on that forgiveness to others.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for pouring out all your anger over sin onto Jesus, so that our sins could be forgiven. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.