What you do with your anger will either be helpful or hurtful.
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If pride is the most subtle of the seven deadly sins, anger is the most obvious. For one thing, it's visible. The other sins are internal—lust, envy, greed. We can be harboring them in our hearts without people knowing. When we're angry, it shows—raised voice, harsh words, a scowl, a punch, or worse. For another thing, it hurts. The other sins—pride, sloth, gluttony—do their damage to us first, before they start affecting others. But anger often hurts others before it hurts us.
So anger shows. And anger hurts. It is the most obvious of the deadly sins. Chances are most of us can look back over the past week and think of a time (or two or three) when our anger showed and was hurtful: on the job, around the house, at school, in the car.
At the same time, of all the vices, it's the only one that can also be a virtue. None of the other six are ever good, but there are times that anger is the appropriate response to something or someone. In fact, it's the only one of the seven that we can legitimately ascribe to God. God may be "slow to anger," but even God gets there sometimes.
Of all the deadly sins, anger may be the most tricky to understand and deal with. While the others must be overcome, this one must be managed. We don't talk about "managing" lust, greed, or gluttony. We want to get rid of them, to expunge them from our lives. But we can't expunge anger, apparently. It's an aspect of our nature we must learn to express in a godly way. If we don't, then anger, like the other six vices, can be deadly.
We began our Lenten journey last week, exploring the seven deadly sins handed down to us in the Christian tradition. We're asking God to use these seven vices to reveal what's wrong inside, to ...
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Bryan Wilkerson is pastor of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts.