Recently Amanda did something, and I can't for the life of me remember what it was. But my response to her was something like, "Did any part of you think that would be a good idea?!?" I really do try to live up the standard of Jesus. I know that raging at my children is a sin. And yet, I keep thinking of the scene in the temple, where Jesus goes in and roars about his house being a den of robbers, and overturns tables. What they were doing was wrong, but he was angry, and rightfully so. I had been thinking about this lately (in struggling to keep my temper), and just recently, I came to that passage in Mark 11:12-17:
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.I also discovered another layer that had not been coming to mind when remembering this situation. He curses the fig tree for not bearing fruit (out of fruit bearing season even). So, he was angry and hungry and maybe a bit concerned about recent and coming events, but still a bit unreasonable. It was not a sin for Him to speak this way to the fig tree, because Jesus did not sin.
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written: " 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"
In asking myself, "Is there a place for righteous anger in our lives?" I again have to look at Jesus. Yes, he expressed anger, but with a purpose. Back to what was noted after he cursed the fig tree, "And his disciples heard him say it."
In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"He got angry, but He also knew that it would be used for a greater purpose, to teach the disciples about prayer, asking forgiveness, and receiving forgiveness.
"Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Mark 11:20-25
So if I rage at my toddler for going past the "safe place" on the driveway, might that anger teach him that it really is an important rule? Yelling (and might I add, out of fear instead of anger or impatience) might just cement that principle in his mind.
If I yell a question or command to my daughter, because it's been asked (and ignored) four times already, will that teach her a greater lesson? Other than observing Mommy out of control, no, I don't think that angry response will make her more apt to listen and respond in the future.
I know that crossing that line into sinful anger is a dangerous area for me. I would certainly always rather err on the side of gentleness, but it does reassure me to know that anger in itself isn't a sin, and that it may be warranted on rare occasions.