Meet hate with love. Return good for evil. Leave the anger to the Lord; He will repay.
These are the hardest lessons. We often think we have a right to be angry. We call it righteous anger or righteous indignation. We think we can justify our anger. And understandably so, especially when we see such evil being done all around us. You see innocent people being led to slaughter like animals just for what they believe, and you can feel the holy bile of hatred rising within you. If you could blow those people away you would. But does God ask you to do that? Does God think you can fix this? Is He counting on you to set the record straight? If the Judge of the whole earth is withholding His right hand of justice, what makes us think we can use ours?
Not to belittle the need and value of justice being meted out in a human court of law. This is right and what should be done, but this is also a process that involves many checks and balances of power so it is the law itself that judges, not some Rambo picking up a gun and blowing all the bad guys away.
Bruce Cockburn wrote in a song after witnessing innocent villagers being shot and killed by an insurgent helicopter in South America: “If I had a rocket launcher, some S.O.B. would die!” And we understand; we feel with him. It’s a natural human reaction. But we don’t have a rocket launcher, we don’t have the power, and we don’t sit in a place of judgment. So for us, this feeling may be justified, but it doesn’t have anywhere to go. That’s why the Lord, in effect, says, Give your anger to Me; I will deal with these guys in My time. Letting that anger boil inside you, however righteous it may be, isn’t going to help anybody.
Moses was forever blocked from entering into the Promised Land as a result of his righteous anger. Wandering for forty years in the desert, the children of Israel continually complained and grumbled against Moses and Aaron about being hungry and thirsty: “This land has no grain, figs, grapes, or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink” (Numbers 20:5)! So Moses goes before the Lord for the umpteenth time and pleads for the people, and God responds, “As the people watch, command the rock over there to pour out its water. You will get enough water from the rock to satisfy all the people and their livestock” (Numbers 20:8).
So Moses summoned the people to the rock and proceeded to cry out, “Listen you rebels! Must we bring you water from this rock?” And raising his hand, he struck the rock twice with his staff and water came gushing out.
So he embellished a little. So he showed his anger and impatience with the people. So he put himself in a place of judgment with God where he didn’t belong (“Must we bring you water from this rock?”). Was that enough to keep him out of the Promised Land? Apparently God thought so.
We do not get to act independently of God even for righteous causes.
Don’t harbor anger in your heart, however righteous you think it might be. It will eventually hurt someone, and most certainly hurt you. Leave it to the Lord who causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and the rain to fall on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Let God be God. He knows what He is doing, even if we do not.