Righteous Anger

jesus-scourages-money-changers

May 18

Be angry, yet do not sin…” (Ephesians 4:26a)

Yesterday, we saw that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” The key emphasis was upon the anger OF MAN.

Scripture never commands us NOT to be angry. Anger is not necessarily a sin (though it can certainly lead us to do or say things we may regret).

As in all things, anger has its time and place… the real key is KNOWING what that time and place may be.

We certainly see that God (in the Old Testament) can get angry. Yet, in His anger He does not sin (God’s actions are always right – even if we don’t understand them).

angry-god

The epistles of the New Testaments have their moments when the author is angry (Gal. 3; James 4; among others) yet, in that anger, Holy Scripture is produced to lead generations of believers in God’s truth.

And most important of all… Jesus had His moments of anger…

In Mark 3:4-5, Jesus heals a a man with a withered hand. But this good work occurred on a Sabbath and the Jewish leaders were none too happy about it. Neither was Jesus… He was angry at the hardness of their hearts (and for stubborn legalism that suspended kindness just so a Holy day could be “properly” kept).

withered hand healed

Of course, we all know about Jesus and His encounter with the money-changers at the Temple. The anger of Jesus was doled out against those who were “lawfully” cheating the people (and abusing their authority, to fill the Temple coffers). In the wake of overturned tables and hundreds of coins rolling everywhere, Jesus gives the motivation for His actions: “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it ‘a den of robbers.'” (Mt. 21:13)

righteous anger

And who can forget Matthew 23 and Jesus’ rant against the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees. These were not soft words to “win friends and influence people” – these were words of the sharpest judgment against those who had mastered the letter of the Law, while ignoring It’s spirit.

Woe unto You

In all these examples, we learn that it is quite possible to be angry and yet not sin.

Do we see any guidelines for our own lives? Certainly…

We learn that anger can be righteous when it is exposing hypocrisy. Those who “preach, but do not practice,” (Mt. 23:3) were the target of Jesus’ anger – because they held the authority in Jewish culture and they were misrepresenting God. They had made Him to be a god of rules and punishments – and Jesus came to set the record straight.

We learn that anger can be righteous in preserving the truth. Through Jesus and the apostles, we often see that truth deserves a strong defense… and falsehood (especially when it arises among God’s people) merits swift, decisive, and appropriate action(often, in Scripture, those in error get a holy “spanking!”)

And lastly, anger can be righteous when it is in defense of the hurting or helpless. Jesus never got angry when He was mistreated or slandered – even publicly. Neither did the apostles. But when other people were hurt or abused, they would come to the defense of the hurting and helpless – sometimes in an angry display.

This last point is most potent. We tend to view how WE are treated as a justification for vicious responses (we won’t start the fight… but we will sure end it!). But Jesus’ words to us are devastating to this mindset. He taught His people the importance of facing revfunpersonal suffering with an attitude of submission, not retribution. “If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also.” (Luke 6:29) And the apostle admonishes: “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” (Rom. 12:17) In other words, we have no right to be angry when personally wronged. Set a different example. Show the world that we will leave vengeance in God’s Hands (see Rom. 12:19)

A simple axiom arises: If God is angry about something… we should be as well. Let the God Who dwells within us lead us and guide us… even in the expression of anger.

About theheartseeker

I have spent years studying the Scriptures and seeking for God's answer to the question: What IS true Christianity? Let me share some answers with you...
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