Be Angry and Do Not Sin

“So let us too not be angry rashly. Anger, you see, has been instilled in us for a reason, not for sinning but for checking others in their sin, not for it to become a passion and an affliction but for it to prove a remedy for passions. Accordingly consider the anomaly of vice, when the remedy proves injurious, when we inflict wounds through the means we should apply to heal the wounds of others…
It is as if you were to take a knife meant for excising patients’ gangrene, and rashly lay it into yourself, inflicting wounds on all parts of your body… This is the kind of thing anger is, a useful instrument for stirring up our tardy spirits, for imparting energy to the soul, for rendering us more concerned in our reaction to the fate of the wronged, for moving us to action against conspirators. This is precisely the reason he says, Be angry, and do not sin.”

St. John Chrysostom on Psalm 4

Thus we see in the writings of the church fathers that there is nothing inherently diseased or broken in our constitution. Even the spiritedness (or anger) that we are made with, naturally, is meant to be used for a purpose. We are meant to employ this natural energy against sin. When the Psalmist say, “Be angry and do not sin,” he is not saying, ‘only get a little angry’. He is teaching us to use this particular faculty against sin and by doing so, to ward it off. This is the proper use of this aspect of ourselves rather than how the demons convince us to utilize it against friends, family, those who cut us off in traffic, etc. We look to cure our irascibility not by removing it but by reorienting it to its God-given use.

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