Our daughter was gone for the morning and a friend had come to babysit our two grandsons. That was a brave lady! Actually, she had a relatively problem-free, crisis-free morning, except for one time when she just had to reprimand our three-year-old angel. Being a firstborn, he was very sensitive to being corrected. His later comment indicated that he had clearly recorded what was a very gentle reprimand – the kind you do with a smile on your face, not a snarl. When Mom returned and asked our little guy how his morning was with “Miss Wilma,” he invented a new phrase to describe her correction. He said, “Miss Wilma got mad at me; she got happy mad.”
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “The Happy Kind of Mad.”
I found the idea of being “happy mad” intriguing. And, in fact, the Bible actually describes a kind of “mad” that God considers, more or less, the “happy” kind. It’s the kind that doesn’t tear down the person on the other end.
God’s description of “righteous” anger is really realistic and helpful, especially in Ephesians 4:25-27, which is our word for today from the Word of God. Here’s what it says, “Laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”
Apparently, it’s possible to be angry with someone and deal with it in a way that isn’t sinful. Let’s call it “happy mad” as my grandson said. Sadly, we do a whole lot of sinning when we’re angry. So we all need to know how to “be angry and yet not sin” as it says here. Righteous anger first has to be truthful, not exaggerated. “Speak truth,” the Bible says. No exaggeration, no inflation, no stretching, no embellishing the truth to make your point. Stick to the facts.
Secondly, righteous anger needs to be kind and not cruel. Two verses later we’re told, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building others up…” (Ephesians 4:29) – nothing that will tear the other person down. God is calling us to express our frustration and anger in a way that you attack the issue; you don’t attack the person.
So I’m not going to resort to calling you a name…to belittling you. It means saying something like this: “What you said makes me feel like my feelings don’t matter,” instead of saying, “You don’t give a rip about how I feel, do you?” One sticks to the facts about how I’m feeling; the other one attacks you and accuses you.
One other characteristic of righteous anger according to Ephesians 4 is it’s short-lived, not stored up. “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” No day should ever end with you still being angry. When you store it, it grows and deepens and turns into hard feelings and bitterness. All that can be avoided if you never “let the sun go down on your anger.” Otherwise you develop what the Bible calls in Hebrews 12:15, “A root of bitterness, that one day grows up and defiles many” and it says, “can cost you the benefit at that moment of the grace of God.”
God knows we’re going to get angry, but He has spelled out a way for us to deal with it that doesn’t leave scars, doesn’t leave walls and doesn’t leave regrets. Be honest, be kind, and get right to it. If there’s such a thing as “happy mad,” I guess that’s what it’s like.