The Role of the Rage Monster
“Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.” – Psalm 4:4 (NLT)
By now, I imagine you’re familiar with Dude Perfect. Originally founded in 2009, the group has almost 60 million YouTube subscribers and typically amasses tens of millions of views on each new video within a few days of posting.
Dude Perfect usually specializes in trick shots and sports-related challenges, but their “stereotype” videos are also incredibly popular. One of the recurring characters in these videos is the “Rage Monster.” Each time, something will happen that bothers or upsets the Rage Monster, and he will respond outrageously by shouting and breaking things.
The rage monster’s irrational and reckless anger is hilarious in this context, but it also raises a few questions about how we process feelings of rage in our everyday lives. Where does anger come from? What purpose does anger serve? How do we know if – and when – we take anger too far?
As Christians, we should base our understanding of anger based on what Scripture teaches. In the book of Exodus, we read that God is “slow to anger.” (see Exodus 34:6). This doesn’t mean that God never gets angry, but it does mean that God isn’t overly emotional or reactive in frustrating situations. In other words, God’s anger is calculated, justified, and serves a purpose.
Human anger isn’t always this way, as demonstrated by the Rage Monster and (far too often) in our everyday lives. While anger can be a productive emotion, it has the potential to be damaging and destructive when left unhinged.
Jesus understands this, and he has strong words to share about anger in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!.” (Matthew 5:21-22a, NLT)
Just like we saw last week, Jesus is dropping another white-hot take. Just about everyone understands why murder is evil and intolerable, but how could Jesus put anger on the same pedestal? If the standard for righteousness is set in the absence of anger, who can ever reach it?
To properly understand what Jesus is saying here, we must look at this passage alongside other references to anger in Scripture. We’ve already established that God is slow to anger. We also see examples, such as the cleansing of the temple, where Jesus uses anger for a specific purpose. We’re aware of passages like James 1:20 (“Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires,” NLT) that shed light on the idea that not all anger is created equally.
To state a complex matter as simply as possible, Jesus is condemning certain types of anger – not anger as a whole. If we believe that Jesus desires to transform our hearts and minds, we understand that behavior modification is not an adequate approach to lifelong transformation. We must properly deal with our anger because it can easily grow into hatred, resentment, and hostility when left unchecked.
Jesus calls us to abandon short-sighted human anger in favor of greater love, respect, and mercy for our fellow human beings. Jesus knows that simply avoiding anger-charged actions such as murder won’t change our hearts, but shifting our perspective toward others can produce a lasting change. By getting to the root problem, we address the real issue rather than simply treating the symptoms.
At the same time, when we encounter situations that would anger God, we should share in God’s wrath. When we align our affections with the things God cares most about, we’ll be displeased by the same unjust and unrighteous acts that God is unwilling to tolerate. In these moments, it’s right for us to feel upset. Being angry in these situations motivates us to respond in a way that brings more of God’s goodness into the world rather than standing by passively and doing nothing.
Next time you get angry, pause and consider where your anger is coming from. If nothing else, this will keep you from reacting emotionally in a way that you’ll later regret. Try to determine where your anger is coming from, and whether it’s something that would make God angry as well.
“(The Lord) will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” – Psalm 103:9-10, NLT