Anger and Passion
To understand God’s anger – or to understand anger as God’s talks about it – we must address motive and intention. God is angry but is never angry with the wrong heart about it because His intentions and passionate desires are always just, right, good, and holy. God is not selfish as men are selfish. God in not self-serving as men are self-serving. God is love, and His love is never self-centered because He is eternally and infinitely self-sufficient, without need of anything else to be complete.
God is angry and in a good mood at the same time. He is God. He can function like that. God expresses aggression against His enemies, the enemies of His purposes, and His anger will burn hot with jealousy for the objects of His love. His passion will consume what is contrary to what is best for those He loves in terms of what is limiting the fullness of their purpose. God’s passionate desire produces aggressive behaviors in both the Old and New Testament.
Consider Jesus cleansing the Temple because He is representing His Father’s passion for the purpose of His house – a house of prayer for all nations. Consider that Jesus is in a good mood for this behavior! Twice He enters the Temple with bold zeal for God’s purpose for the nation, the Temple, the Covenants, and His anger is expressed by His passion for purpose.
Consider Jesus’ words and response to Pharisees and Sadducees. He isn’t politically correct! He speaks His Father’s heart to whited sepulchers, snakes in the grass, children of the devil and hell, and blind leaders of the blind. He is in a good mood when He says all these things. Never out of control, but controlled by passionate love.
Contrasting this expression of passion with anger produced by selfish intentions, fear, rejection, jealousy and envy, unforgiveness, bitterness, and rebellion. Selfish anger is out of control, untouched by the intentions and motivations of purpose, reactionary aggression based upon works of flesh. The opposite of passion for purpose, seeking its own, unkind, political, divisive through strife and striving to get what it wants.
When God is angry, He is just as good a mood as when He is happy because He is happy with His anger. He could not remain happy without it because it is a product of His passionate love.
In this we glimpse the meaning of Paul’s instruction: “Be angry but don’t sin.”
Anger Produces Good
God’s anger always produces good things because it is part of God being in a good mood. That is, anger as a response to passionate love will release good things. Anger that is a reaction of selfishness will be destructive and often burn like acid within the person because it cannot accomplish good things and the person continues to smolder in its frustration.
Consider frustration as the source of fleshly anger, the basis of which is a desire to control or change something or someone, to shape people, situations, reality in ways that answer to our selfishness. Frustration comes because we are unable to produce the desired effect, and the reaction is fleshly anger rather than holy anger. Because frustration is the source, the only way out is to surrender the desire, give up on our desire to be in control of everything. Instead of pursuing God’s purpose in people, situation, reality, we are attempting to impose upon them our own desires, so our anger responds to our selfishness, produced as a reaction to our frustration.
The Greek word for anger comes from a root that means “to stretch one’s self out, to reach out toward something with a sense of desire or passion.” Anger reacts or responds from a deeper source of desire and passion with intention and motivation in the heart. Anger is the response of passion, not passivity. The word carries a sense of “impulse.”
Love produces anger as well as selfishness. “Seeks not her own” doesn’t mean love seeks nothing! Love passionately desires and burns with devotion for its object, so it responds with passionate impulse, desiring the best for its object. It is possible to perform all sorts of “heroic” activities and actions without love – “if I give my body to be burned but have not love.” It possible to trumpet many messages without producing a love song – “if I speak with tongues of men and angels but have not love.” It is possible to sacrifice impulsively with little or no intention or motivation of love – “if I give all I possess to the poor and have not love.”
Love produces anger but not from selfishness: not jealous or boastful or proud; doesn’t demand its own way; isn’t easily irritated; keeps no accounting of wrongs against it; doesn’t rejoice in injustice but in the revealing establishing of truth. Love endures forever. Along the way, love produces several sentiments and impulses consistent with its burning passionate desire.
Speaking with spiritual language and prophesying doesn’t represent the totality of intention and can be performed without a passion for purpose and people, so it doesn’t possess the totality within itself. In other words, spiritual gift capacities are never an end within themselves because they respond to deeper motivations and intentions that are most pure when they are functioning with the passion of God!
Anger, War, and Love
Love produces war. Warfare pursues and protects people and purpose. Love pursues people and purpose. Passionate love will always engage conflict when pursuing purpose runs into opposition to that purpose. That opposition and engagement produces warfare at some level and to some extent.
With regards to spiritual warfare, we positively, progressively pursue God’s purposes and inevitably run into the opposition of God’s enemies. Impossible to do otherwise and truly love God! Any limitation we put upon our submission, obedience, and endurance in this area is a limitation we impose upon our passion!
God eliminates war by winning! He rewards overcomers. He had war in heaven and eliminated war in heaven by winning. He responded to war in Heaven with love for His purposes; He didn’t tolerate any opposition to His passion for purpose, not for a second! He responded to His created angels who were in opposition to His passion for purpose by removing them, binding them in chains of darkness, restoring Heaven immediately to a place of passionate worship, praise, honor, justice, wisdom, and riches so overwhelmed by passionate devotion that no room was available for opposition. God is love. God makes war. There is not contradiction in this; in fact, for God to do otherwise would be a contradiction and limitation of His burning passionate desire for His purposes and people!
I once encountered a silly viewpoint from a leader (not in my city or state and not a person with whom I have personal relationship beyond encountering his viewpoint even when I wasn’t interested or ask for his insights). He insisted that his way of worship and prayer and ministry was superior, even right where mine was wrong, and characterized this viewpoint by saying, “You are the war people and we are the love people.” (I’ve heard this phrase several times.) I laughed then. I laugh again now.
He was attempting to build a ministry upon love (supposedly) that would avoid confrontation, that would “love people into wholeness,” by giving stuff to the poor, sacrificing his own stuff for the betterment of people with less, and boasting about it by making this loud claim to the superiority of his methods and focus. Then, he proceeded to seek the involvement of people in ministry from our assignment and other assignments, confessing a record of wrongs because he hadn’t been properly honored and his wife’s feelings were hurt. This was his understanding of love: make love, not war.
Anger? Yes. Aggression. Yes, passive aggression. End result? Creating the need for self, measuring ministry by how it makes me feel about myself, basing relationship and leadership upon the premise that it would make his wife feel better if she had some people who needed her. No war. Just love.
Unfortunately, I’ve not encounter too many people with more unresolved inner conflict and more capacity for continual whirlwinds of drama. This in not a passion for the purposes of God. It avoids the very conflict love creates. Love, by definition, is selective; love chooses an object. God’s love chooses an object and seeks the best for that object: the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Love confronts what is limiting that fullness and fulfillment. Love disciples. Love disciplines. The level of anger and disgust and diminishing I experienced with “the love people” appeared like a spiritual mob spirit of entitlement, a demanding based upon strife, selfishness, pride, and deception.
God is Love. God heals, restores, makes whole, blesses, gives to the poor, sacrifices His Own for the betterment of people who are helpless. Expressing that love will consume the enemies of people – disease, brokenness, poverty, curse, lack, entitlement, and victimization. There is destruction in redemption. God hates as easily and deeply and completely as He loves, and that is how we know His love is eternal and infinite!
Love gives a cup of cold water. It doesn’t necessarily define that action and activity as an end within itself anymore than speaking in tongues and prophesying would be ends within themselves. Only when that giving expresses a deep-seated passion for purpose does it represent Heaven. In other words, Jesus fed people fish sandwiches on two occasions, feeding 5,000 one time and 4,000 on another occasion. Jesus did so out of love. He also exposed the entitlement spirit in the people that was limiting their pursuit and perfection of purpose, so He said, No more fish sandwiches. If you don’t eat My flesh and drink My blood you have no part in Me. He knew that doing fish sandwich hand outs wasn’t the kingdom because it wouldn’t produce a fullness and fulfillment of God’s purposes in the people.
Anger produced by love looks a lot different from anger produced by selfishness and flesh. The love people are the war people.