Righteous Anger…

There is an odd conception amongst some non-believers, and some Christians that anger, in and of itself is sin; that anger is always a bad thing.  This is not the case.

If God Himself lets us know He is “angry” in our sense of the word, then it quite simply is no sin to be angry, but how and why someone is angry matters very much.  Let’s look at a few passages:

Psalms 78:21Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;

Should people be afraid of the anger of the Lord?  Yes, in the scared sense if one is not a believer, and in the awed sense if one is.  We also have to recognize that someone, or something, such as a nation, has to be doing something seriously wrong to face the righteous anger of God, for:

Psalms 145:8 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.

If people turn to God with an acknowledgment of their wrongdoing, He quick to forgive.  OK, but those are Psalms right?  Perhaps David and the other writers of the Psalms were being figurative…

John 2:13 And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

I once read a review from a person who said that CS Lewis should not have chosen a lion (Aslan) to represent Christ in The Chronicles of Narnia…it is comments like that that make me realize that many people don’t actually know anything about Jesus or Christianity.  Look at the first bold part above in scripture, here is a bit of info a lot of people rush past; there apparently was no whip on hand so the Lord Himself made one, notice too that it was a small one, probably causing a bit of sting with no actual physical damage. Hunh.

It was indeed a Righteous anger; it was in response to a slight on God Himself.  It wasn’t about hurt pride, or a purely emotional outburst, it had reason.  Notice also what Jesus does afterward; He uses the scene to teach the people the Truth of the Father, Himself, and the resurrection.

Anger can indeed be a sin;

Matthew 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…

People have to watch it; anger can be an all consuming fire, an addiction, a self-serving, self-righteous response.  Humans through out history also have used God as an excuse to abuse (especially in the sinful act of physically abusing another human being under our protection; spouse, children boyfriend, girlfriend, etc…) and to persecute.  God knows precisely why someone is acting out in anger, and the overall tone of scripture guides us to the fact that, as with other things, we ought to leave the anger, especially the acting out of anger, to God Himself…it is yet another responsibility we humans muck up.

But, there are times when there is a place for righteous anger;

Ephesians 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:  22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.

We must always search our hearts and watch our actions and words carefully when we are angry, even when we have reason.  We also need to read and study (and pray about) the whole of scripture talking about anger and how to “answer” evil, also responding to the guidance of the Holy Spirit on these things.  And also, we should never think we can fool God into believing our anger is righteous and on His behalf, when it is really self-serving, out of control, and hypocritical.

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2 Comments

Filed under Theology

2 responses to “Righteous Anger…

  1. dwilli58

    “So, then, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger;” James 1: 19

    I have yet to take this advice fully! You’re right, we can’t get angry and then fool God into believing that it was, in any way, righteous. I believe that I have known, through the spirit, when I have responded in righteous anger. I wish I could say that about every time I’m angry.

    Jesus, also exhibited righteous anger towards the Pharisees at times. Jesus, hated injustice!

  2. Kliska

    I have to work on it too, I’d say! I’m pretty good at regular anger, which isn’t nice…

    For sure Jesus’ anger was always righteous, and it had such truth in it that it had to pierce like an arrow; though stone hearts, such as the Pharisees had, had to be hard to chip away at.

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