Defending our ego and image

By Dave Henning / April 10, 2023

“When we get angry, we should ask: ‘What am I defending?’  If we do that, we will see how often we are defending our ego, pride, agendas, and image.  God’s anger is always righteous because He is perfect love.  So his anger is always in defense of the good, true, and beautiful, and his anger is always released to destroy evil, sin, and death.”- Timothy Keller

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.  Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court.”- Matthew 5:23-25 (NIV)

In Chapter 11 (“Extending Forgiveness”), the last chapter of Forgive, Timothy Keller notes the surprising nature of Jesus’s directions in Matthew 5:23-25.  First, Jesus does not offer His listeners an example of when they are angry.  Rather, He tells His disciples what they must do if they make someone else angry.

Consequently, Pastor Keller cites D. A. Carson (Matthew: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary).  Pastor Keller states that:

“Jesus’s disciples are to be so concerned to stop the spread of sinful anger and hate that they should be ‘no less concerned when [they] engender them in others’ as when they experience them themselves.”

Second, Pastor Keller expresses surprise at the urgency of Jesus.  However, the author underscores, here Jesus isn’t so much laying down literal rules for timing.  Instead, in Matthew Jesus denounces the procrastination and avoidance that characterize most of us when we’re aware of a breach in the relationship.

In conclusion, Pastor Keller stresses, anger isn’t intrinsically sinful.  For example, John describes Jesus as deeply moved at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:33,38). In the text, the Greek word means ‘to bellow or snort with anger.’  So, Jesus speaks of sinful anger, not anger per se.

Today’s question: When do you find yourself defending your ego and image?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The Christian reconciliation model”

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Dave Henning

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