The power of Righteous Anger
You’re probably familiar with the command of 1 Peter 3:9, which says…
“Do not repay evil for evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
So, are “good Christians” really supposed to “repay evil with a blessing?”
It’s a struggle, isn’t it?
I consider myself a good person and a thoughtful Christian. But when I hear about the evil acts committed by predators who harm women and children, I find myself going to a very dark place.
It’s a place where I want to crush such abomination with “eye-for-an-eye” justice.
After all, how can one not wish to “take pleasure from the death of the wicked” when we see the most vulnerable abused, used, bought and sold as animals?
I’m glad to say that I’m not alone in my conflict. This is a common dilemma with which many Christians struggle. The answer is surprisingly simple, though not easy.
It’s OK to be angry.
It’s not OK to sin.
Ephesians 4:26 puts it this way…
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
Seems pretty cut and dry. So what’s the problem? Why do we struggle?
I believe the core of the problem is that many Christians suffer from a lack of righteous indignation. In some ways, we’ve been taught to suppress it. This lack of righteous anger is a symptom of poor teaching from the pulpit.
Notice that Paul doesn’t write “It’s okay to be angry sometimes,” or “Be angry if you can’t help it.” Anger is not sinful, and Jesus Himself became angry. He expressed righteous anger and indignation.
As Christians, we are to be like Christ. So we must also seek to express righteous anger while at the same time avoiding sin. We can’t become bitter or seek vengeance, but rather, we should desire justice and righteous judgment according to the laws of the land.
Anger, then, isn’t just an allowance, it’s sometimes a requirement.
The tragic reality is that many Christian men have forsaken their responsibility to protect loved ones, the innocent, and themselves. We owe it to our families and our communities to sharpen our skills and be vigilant against threats.
Psalm 82:3 says…
“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”
The Bible makes it clear that God loves justice. Proverbs 21:15 teaches…
“When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.”
Our desire for and pursuit of justice cannot, however, cause us to become vigilantes, carrying out our own idea of justice. Instead, we must leave this task to our governing authorities and to God.
In Romans 13:1 we read…
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Being angry but not sinning isn’t about inaction. If you just become angry but do nothing, you’re no different than the person described in James 2:15–17…
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Your anger must lead to action, but not sin. This may mean speaking the truth in love to someone, or intervening to protect one who is in danger. Or it may mean supporting organizations that go in and rescue victims of abuse.
The truth is there are many things you can do with your anger that are not sinful. So as you become angry, first check your anger. Is this a righteous indignation? Or are you angry because you feel slighted?
If it is righteous anger, then pray for wisdom to know what to do with your anger, and the strength to act without sinning.
By Victor Marx
To learn more about Victor Marx be sure to visit his website here.