Anger: Sinful or Righteous?

Proverbs 22:8 NKJV
He who sows wickedness reaps trouble,
and the rod of his fury will be destroyed.

Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of anger will fail. (NRSV)

Anger rarely works. There are places for righteous anger, but as sinners, we need to be careful about why we are angry. Righteous anger can quickly move into selfish or self-centered anger. And then we are in trouble.

Injustice is an interesting word. I think that, as Americans, we often see it in a narrow view, as someone’s rights being violated. And that’s a true meaning. But I think there is another view and that is as God’s rights being violated . . . as in sin.

Anger is rarely a good thing. We look to the Lord Jesus in the Temple, chasing out the money-changers. But we rarely look at the Lord Jesus, in agony hanging on the cross, and forgiving His executioners. There are few instances of approved anger in scripture, many instances of forgiveness.

What good does anger do? Usually it raises our blood pressure, restricts our focus, limits our effectiveness in other aspects of our lives. And, most often, it rarely affects the object of our anger. In fact, in so many cases, that person doesn’t care at all whether or not we are angry at them. Certainly anger rarely, very rarely, motivates that person to change their behavior.

Paul talked about how we are to interact with our enemies:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.Romans 12:14-21 NRSV

Have we ever thought to ask God for permission to be angry? If it is indeed a righteous anger, we will still be able to prayer, to love, to forgive. If it is a sinful anger, we need to repent, to walk away from it and to bless our enemies instead of trying to manipulate or hurt them.