I write from the context of Costa Rica and Latin America, where “anger” often takes the form of nonconfrontation and simply withdrawing from the relationship. We could speak of “passive anger.” If the controversy is at church over some policy, one simply leaves the church. Anger at a friend might not elicit any verbal response whatsoever, but simply the end of the relationship. I believe that this response of “dissimulated anger” might be more common in other places as well.
Romans 12:19–20 falls in a list of various other commands by the Apostle Paul for the Christian living in this world with other sinners. And the overall perspective is of ultimate importance for all of us. John Calvin takes us directly to the heart of each one of these items: “What is the purpose of our actions?” In this regard, there are only two choices—either we think and act theocentrically (God centered) or we think and act anthropocentrically (man centered). Either God and His Word are our goal and our guide, or man’s desires determine our actions and attitudes. Either Christ and His glory are our goal, or we seek our own glory.
In Romans 12:19–20, Paul exhorts us to refrain from attempting to usurp God’s role in history. God is the Ruler and Judge, and He will mete out justice in perfect form. Paul’s words are direct. We have an order from the Judge. In fact, the whole context drives us in the opposite direction of seeking personal revenge, or “justice” in our own view. We are to bless those who persecute us (Rom. 12:14), never pay back evil for evil (Rom. 12:17), and live peaceably with all men (Rom. 12:18).