“In your anger do not sin,” the apostle Paul commanded the Ephesian believers, and by extension all Christians. (Eph. 4:26, NIV) The events that have transpired in the United States over the past few weeks have offered many opportunities for anger. There are some who are angry that the current President of the United States is calling this election fraud. There are others who are angry that apparently fraud has occurred and has affected the presidential election. In between these polar extremes lie many others. What binds these polls and all in between could be represented in anger.
I have posted some helpful resources for counseling individuals from the Scriptures who are experiencing anger. This post is aimed at helping individuals overcome anger as a result of political disagreements. I will be the first to admit that this has been a trying season. Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ have taken a completely different approach and view of the political landscape. That is not as challenging as some people’s responses. Here are a few representatives from Twitter.
“I love seeing Trump supporters CRY, it’s my daily medicine, my weekly energy, my monthly inspiration and my yearly motivation. Their loss is the only reason i’m still alive, i was born to love and enjoy the failure that they have achieved.”
“That’s it! An absolutely disgraceful performance! In all my years as a citizen of this country I’ve never seen a country so lazy and pathetic! I’m becoming a Canadian citizen where they have a real government! Goodbye!”
One need only peruse social media to see much, much worse. I am sure that you, like me, have family members posting similar or worse things. But what about our brothers and sisters in Christ? How do we respond and work through these trying times?
One thing we must understand at the beginning is anger itself. Anger is “at its core…very simple. It expresses ‘I’m against that.’ It is an active stance you take to oppose something that you assess as both important and wrong.” One can easily see how the present political disagreements can create such hostile feelings. Abortion, equal rights, various views on taxes, and government mandates are just a few examples of those issues that we can oppose. So, how do we maintain anger without sin, while also not compromising our love for one another in Christ?
Attack the Problem, Not the Person
One way that we can avoid sinning in anger is to follow Jay Adams words. He writes, “Here the tensions of anger are released primarily toward the problem rather than toward others or towards oneself. That is to say that the energies of the emotion of anger are used constructively in solving the problem—attacking it rather than people.” The problem may be in election fraud, a failure to conceit, or a policy issue (such as marriage rights or abortion). People disagree on these, strongly, and rightly so. They are important issues. But, as followers of Jesus Christ, we must never sin in our stances of opposition. The first way we can avoid sinning is to attack the problem, not the person. Adams goes on to write, “Turning anger toward the problem, however, almost always involves confronting another in anger. Yet, the way in which they are confronted makes the difference. They must be confronted to the extent that they are involved responsibly in the solution to the problem. They are confronted not in order to embarrass or hurt them, but to help them to move in the proper directions.” We must identify the problem and attack it, not our fellow believer. When it is needful to confront, we must also remember to that “They are confronted not in order to embarrass or hurt them…” This is pure sin. It demeans the name of our God and destroys our witness to the lost and dying world around us.
Always Practice Biblical Love
A second way that we can avoid sinning while angry, even in the midst of political disagreements, is to practice biblical love. While discussing spiritual gifts and their abuses (1 Corinthians 12 and 14), Paul encourages believers to engage in biblical (i.e., Christlike) love. He writes,
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
There are several practical points that can help us navigate political disagreement. I will only provide a bullet-point listing:
- Be patient in your discussions. Seek to understand what they mean, not what you infer.
- Be kind in your speech, postings, and interactions.
- Do not be envious of their victories, their abilities to articulate their positions, nor of their support.
- Do not boast about your candidate’s victory, the acceptance of your political views, or of the inherent worthiness of your view.
- Do not be prideful in your political views but walk humbly before your God.
- Never dishonor an individual over a political view.
- Search your heart for the motivation for your political view.
- Do not allow yourself to be “easily angered.”
- Work to forgive and forget any offences against you.
- While not compromising your own political views, seek to celebrate the virtue in those opposing views.
- Never, ever rejoice over evil, regardless of your political views.
- Always rejoice in truth, regardless of your political views.
- In every interaction and exchange, seek to protect, trust, hope, and endure all for your brother or sister in Christ.
Remember that God reigns
This seems odd in a post about anger, particularly in relation to the political situation in the United States. But the truth of Scripture is that God reigns. Though there are presidents, dictators, queens, governors, etc., they are all God’s pawns. He sits, as it were, above the chess board, moving the pieces as He sits fit to accomplish His plan. This is why Paul, under Roman oppression, could write, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment upon themselves.” (Rom. 13:1-2, NIV)
Did your candidate win? God still reigns. Did your candidate lose? God still reigns. He sits, as the psalmist reminds us, “in heaven, he does whatever pleases him.” (Psa. 115:3, NIV) How does this help us deal with sinful anger? Because God reigns, we do not have to become sinfully angry that an individual is not in the office. Because God reigns, we do not have to become sinfully angry that a brother or sister in Christ is joyous over their candidate’s victory. Surely, we can maintain biblical anger in the face of clear violations of Scripture.
“In your anger do not sin,” is not addressed to the present political discussion per se. It is, however, pertinent. Brothers and sisters, in our anger, let us not sin. Let us love one another, even in our political disagreements. May these disagreements serve to spread the name of Jesus Christ to all who observe our loving disagreements.
 David Powlison, Good & Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2016), 39.
 This post focuses exclusively on Christian relationships. By that I mean men and women who have confessed their sins, repented from them, and turned to Christ as their only hope for redemption. For more about the Gospel, please visit https://www.crossway.org/articles/what-is-the-gospel-2/.
 Jay E. Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual: The Practice of Nouthetic Counseling (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1973), 353.
 Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual, 354.
 Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35, NIV)
 “Your” is meant to be plural, as in yours and their God.
 I understand that this discussion is highly complex. One example of a view that a Christian cannot accept is abortion. However, different policies outside of abortion can be celebrated (i.e., care for young mothers in need of assistance).
 Again, abortion provides a clear example of something every believer should be angry about. Every human being that values life should actively oppose abortion. However, though a candidate is elected who supports abortion is something to be angry about, we must, as believers, remember that God still reigns.
Here are some additional resources that will prove helpful, not only during this time of political upheaval, but also for the remainder of our time on earth.