Lord's Day Liturgy

Advanced Level Indignation

It’s one thing for smart people to parse definitions and wrestle over rankings in order to argue that their anger isn’t as bad as it could be. It’s another thing for people, usually those with a Bible-background, to defend their anger as virtue. I’m talking about “righteous anger.”

Is there such a thing? I think yes. Paul quotes Psalm 4:4 in Ephesians 4:26. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” That’s a command with a couple qualifications.

Jesus was angry, at least in one verse. “He looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart” (Mark 3:5). If we are to be Christlike, perhaps there is a way to be angry like Jesus.

But, here are two helps. First, righteous anger is not selfish, not when someone criticizes you, gets in your way, or disobeys you. Righteous anger is not wrapped up in your ego, but is anger directed out toward corruption, cruelty, tyranny, gross deceit, and destructive wickedness.

Second, righteous anger is a good work. You should be able to say, “Jesus planned this for me to be angry and show His righteousness” (see Ephesians 2:10). You should be able to say, “It would be a sin if I was not angry about this.”

Beloved, that’s advanced level indignation.

A third thing, if you have it, you can’t keep it, certainly not overnight; otherwise you’ll be doing devil’s work (Ephesians 4:27). And then, don’t miss the exhortations that following the same paragraph:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31–32 ESV)