“Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry–but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”
Ephesians 4:26-27 (MSG)
One of the most common and ongoing struggles we face in our sanctification as believers is in the area of anger. And one of the common mistakes we can make is failing to distinguish that anger can either be righteous or unrighteous. Anger has always had a negative connotation, representing people who may be bitter, uptight, offended, or ill tempered. Not a pretty picture! But the truth of the matter is that anger is an emotion and it was given to us by God to help us experience and express the fullness of life. The Old Testament alone records people acting in anger forty-seven times. If we look closely at them, we will see that almost 90% of them resulted in unrighteous anger. So in order to free ourselves from unrighteous anger we need to ask ourselves,
“What makes anger righteous?”
Open your Bible to John 2:13 and read through the story of Jesus cleansing the temple. Let’s take a moment to dissect through this story and take note on how our beloved Jesus upheld righteous anger and made it look so easy. First, you know Jesus was mad, not just a little upset, but downright angry. How do we know this? He fashioned himself a whip out of cords. Now think about this for a minute, the Scripture said He made it. How long do you suppose this took? I would say probably more than a couple of minutes. So his actions were premeditated, completely thought out! Next, He storms into the temple knocking over tables and driving out the cattle. Wow! What a sight this much have been! It must have been utter chaos in there. This is not the typical sermon you would hear on a Sunday morning on how to be and act like a good Christian. So what moved our sweet Jesus to do such a shocking thing? It was the zeal for his Father’s house that consumed him. He was moved in His spirit to act when He encountered an unrighteousness (sin/twisting of what God designed). Jesus was so focused on the things of God and His kingdom that He responded with righteous anger against the things that opposed it.
To put it simply, Jesus was not a man of reaction, but a man of response. He did not react out of his feelings and his emotions, but he responded out of a heart aligned with the purposes of God. He was a man who saw an unrighteousness and knew that somebody had to do something. He was a man who was so consumed by the things of his Father that he knew that somebody was Him. Without question, he was a man of passion, a man of purpose, and a man of power!
In what ways have you shown unrighteous anger? What made them unrighteous? When anger arises within you, are you typically a person who responds or a person who reacts? In order to be a woman of righteous anger, you need to focus on changing the underlying motivations and beliefs of your heart that drive angry behavior. Ask God to show you where you lack self-control (reacting in anger) or if you have any bitterness, unforgiveness, jealousy, or hatred toward someone else. Ask the Father to help you to remove these areas from your life and to fill you with God-centered motives and a zeal for His kingdom. God-centered motives will produce a righteous anger. Righteous anger is a powerful tool that can be used to bring kingdom order into chaotic situations.