Study Guide: Angry Love

Sunday August 2, 2009 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

It might surprise you to know that Jesus got angry enough to turn over tables! There are times when it is appropriate to boldly confront others in our community.

Extended Summary:

Jesus made up a whip to drive the animals out of the temple and then turned over the tables that the money-changers were using and scattered their coins! It’s clear from all of this that Jesus was more than upset – he was angry. He was angry enough to be this aggressive with those who were taking advantage of people trying to worship in the temple of God.

Greg’s main point from this passage was that—counter to what we may think— getting angry and doing something bold and disruptive is sometimes exactly what is needed to get people’s attention and give people a chance to reevaluate their actions. In Ephesians 4:26 Paul instructs us not to sin when we are anger and also not to let the sun go down on our anger. We gain two things from this:

  1. Anger itself is not sinful, but we often sin when we express our anger, so there’s a danger here.
  2. Don’t let anger turn into bitterness by letting it go unaddressed. In fact, Paul’s recommendation seems to be that we deal with anger swiftly—that same day if possible.

We get angry when something that we value is devalued in someway by someone else. For Jesus, it was God’s temple that the money-changers were devaluing. In the example that Greg used, a wife whose husband had a serious drinking problem had the right to be angry because her marriage and family were being devalued. Rather than confront him, she just put up with it and prayed about it. Greg’s response was to challenge her to get angry in the right way. This woman, her kids, her marriage and the drinking husband all have unsurpassable worth! In the name of that worth she needs to be bold and fight for it. She needs to confront him, and if that doesn’t work, involve some trusted friends and do the confrontation with a group.

Greg spent some time clarifying that this anger expressed boldly belongs in a specific context. There must be a covenant of some sort that gives permission to all parties involved. A marriage is certainly this sort of covenant; a small group might be a place for this as well. Loving confrontation in the context of a covenant honors the relationship. But trying to confront someone or a group who hasn’t given you permission to speak into their lives is judgment and will probably not be appreciated. (1 Cor. 12-13.)

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting texts?
  2. Have you ever seen anger used in a way that felt more like judgment than like a bold insistence on honoring a relationship? What makes the difference?
  3. If you were one of Jesus’ contemporary followers and truly believed that Jesus was God, how would you respond to Jesus’ aggressive actions at the temple?
  4. Do you have relationships in your life where people can trust each other enough to express anger?