John Piper's Biblical Antidote to Anger

Anger is very much associated with our sense of rights. We feel that we have been violated and “deserve” better treatment. The truth is, none of us deserve anything but hell. We build up for ourselves a mental picture of our ideal life, of what we want, so that it becomes an idol. When we don’t get our own way, we start to throw our toys out of the pram and feel justified to be angry.

James challenges these thoughts in 4:1-2: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” John Piper explains this further as follows:

Humility does not feel a right to better treatment than Jesus got . . . Humility does not build a life based on its perceived rights . . . Much of our anger and resentment in relationships comes from the expectation that we have a right to be treated well. But, as George Otis once said to a gathering in Manila, “Jesus never promised His disciples a fair fight.” We must assume mistreatment, and not be indignant when we get it. This is what humility would look like. Peter (1 Peter 2:21–23) and Paul (Romans 12:19) give us great moral assistance in this difficult task by reminding us that God will settle all accounts justly and that temporary injustice will not be swept under the rug of the universe. It will be dealt with—on the cross or in hell. We need not avenge ourselves. We can leave it to God.

John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals : A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), 163. Also available electronically from Logos Bible Software.

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