Irritation, anger, and WJSS*
I’m sitting here in my favorite coffee shop feeling irritated about supposed scones. I used to really enjoy getting my small black coffee with a delicious and dense triangular scone but they’ve ditched those in favor of a round thing they call a scone but is actually more like a muffin top. DO NOT CALL IT A SCONE, I want to shout at them, but I also want to be allowed back, so I don’t. The muffin top isn’t bad, but calling it a scone is deceptive. And I want a scone.
I get irritated fairly regularly and do shout about it…but only when I’m at home and the ones I’m shouting at or about can’t hear me. It probably won’t surprise you to know that I’m most often on Twitter at the time. I’m not reading the comments ‘cause I ain’t got time for that and I’d be in irritation overload every day if I did. Just the reports and retweets of various sins and stupidities being committed or spoken by my fellow Americans. A gentler, more compassionate person might react with sympathetic understanding and concern. Me…I get irritated, and anyone within earshot knows it.
But before you judge me, you should know that I judge and get irritated with myself for my irritation with others. It’s not a very mature response, though understandable and natural. Too natural…too fleshly…and I’m supposed to be walking by the Spirit, not the flesh. As a follower of Christ I have the Spirit of Christ in me and if I’m walking by the Spirit I should be acting like him. But though Jesus got angry, I can’t picture him getting irritated.
I’ve actually thought about this quite a lot, especially when I respond with irritation to stupid little things like dropping something on the floor. WWJD? WJSS*? I am fairly confident he would not. And I think the reason he wouldn’t is because he so completely trusted his Father that no matter what happened…from hammering his thumb to getting nailed to a cross…he knew it was somehow within God’s providential will and swearing or complaining about it would offend him. It would be a clear expression of displeasure with the way God was running the world.
But as I indicated, Jesus is recorded as getting angry a few times, so what’s the difference between righteous anger and unrighteous, immature irritation? It seems to me that anger directed at people who are hurting others or maligning God’s name is justified and “righteous” because it is other-centered in defense of what is good and morally right. Whereas irritation is a self-centered form of petty anger about one’s own circumstances, i.e. now I have to bend down and pick up what I dropped, or the cable’s out and I can’t watch my show, or that accident up ahead is going to make me late for work. Or I wanted a scone and all I got is this muffin top.
So now that I’ve made that distinction I must say, in all fairness to myself, that though I need to repent of petty irritations about scones and such, Twitter-induced irritation is more the righteous anger type. Because I’m shouting at those who deceive or take advantage of others, spew hatred and condemnation in the name of love and tolerance, or condone the killing of innocent babies in the name of “reproductive freedom.” And those are evils I am fairly confident Jesus would shout about as well.
Which brings me back to my need to walk, and talk, by the Spirit of Christ in me. The more in tune I am with him, the more my anger will reflect his. And if my anger then serves as a warning of God’s righteous indignation, perhaps I will help save a few sinners from “the hands of an angry God.”
*Would Jesus say s**t?