Righteous anger

Meet hate with love. Return good for evil. Leave the anger to the Lord; He will repay.

th-18These 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.

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11 Responses to Righteous anger

  1. Mark Seguin says:

    Another hard Catch, yet I know that i know, i NEEDED to read & apply it…

  2. Actually John, what kept Moses from the promise land if you read the scripture again. God told him to hit the rock once and the water would flow, but in his anger Moses struck the rock twice which in numbers causes division, so therefore he disobeyed God in his anger which separated him from entering the promise land, however God in His mercy buried the man who got a glimpse of His glory.

    • While I’m a strong advocate for accuracy – many would call me very “anal retentive” – it is this sort of nitpicking, Colleen, that chisels fractious cracks into becoming open fissures which eventually create a large chasm separating well-meaning Bible- believing people from other well-meaning Bible-believing people and, eventually, results in contentious divisions – or more accurately: “Sects” or “Denominations” – within the Body of Christ (His Church).

      I believe John knew what he was saying – writing what the Holy Spirit led him to write – and it was not John’s intention to present an in-depth Bible-study on any single portion of Scripture but, rather, present a larger view of God’s perspective concerning righteous indignation and self-righteousness.
      John relayed the truth about the implications and ramifications of Moses’ anger; that’s all we need to know because today’s message wasn’t about striking rocks but about “Meeting hate with love. Returning good for evil. Leaving the anger to the Lord.”

      I’m pretty certain John knows both the Torah and the New Testament intimately and accurately, and he could expound on any verse or chapter with laudable deftness …

      Thank you for listening.

      • John, my friend, you have not understood my walk to know that I am also very anal about such situations and I do not doubt you in your belief. However, think about my stance as well as the biblical people of the time who has faced what I had gone through which if I told the whole story would floor you! Yet I’m still standing and working out the kinks that was laid before me and it wasn’t pretty, but the truth of it all is we should all be Holy Spirit led and walk in spite of cataclysm of doctrine. Yes John truly knows Torah and he was part of the New Testament, but get this, John wasn’t N.T. as you claim and the Gospels are not N.T. either, they are transitional books, because as Paul stated you can not have a new contract or Testament in with God unless the Testator dies. So therefore the Gospel is transitional until the end of their books my friend. Jesus died, hence the N.T. begins. Jesus living during the Gospel is not new but His prospective of New and His death would bring it after the fact. The Gospel of His new life and grace for all starts after that, Died and rose again. Then the new Covenant started from there

  3. I apologize John I thought you responded to my post but it was Bob, so read my response Bob from Seattle above

    • I’m sorry, Colleen, but I have no idea what you’re trying to say to my response above or how it relates to today’s Catch. I’ve re-read it several times now and figure I must be missing something.
      Yes, I understand you’ve had – and still have – trials in life but I’m not able to connect the dots between what you’re attempting to communicate and how it applies to my response or John’s message.
      For my pea-brain, would you please clarify? Thanks! 🙂

      • Well Bob the topic is righteous anger and I believe I was very explanatory in my previous post, however, if you need it point out IRL then I will direct you in my thoughts. Jesus did get very angry and a righteous anger He had, remember him toppling the tables, cursing the pharisees and scribes? Is His anger warranted or unwarranted? They could not foresee the future, but Jesus knew what lied ahead to set us free from the law, however, in your post you stated that John knew the Torah, which I agree, because it was still O.T. , that is my point, it is all O.T. and not New. It totally exempletments the Moses theory. Moses sinned against God, because he hit the rock twice and not once as directed and therefore could not move forward into the promise land that was given to the Israelite. So today, a person’s anger does the same thing. It will blocks God’s blessings that He wishes to bestow upon them. If a person hangs onto the anger then they build a up a wall that stops the flow of the blessing that God had in stored for them, but because they couldn’t let go, hinders what could have been. Bitterness, resentment, and hate comes to mind when thinking of these things, however, God in His grace will stand with or by us until we conform and learn these lessons

  4. JL says:

    Two instances of rock from water:

    First time: Exodus 17:6, instruction being “Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” No problems there.

    Second time: Exodus 20:8. instruction being “Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water.” Exodus 20:11 ” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. ”
    Hence, Exodus 20:12 “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

    Just what the NIV recorded.


  5. Markus says:

    Righteous anger is a difficult kind of ‘wrong‘, imho. Bonhoeffer put it best when he said that it is an illusion to believe that we can always choose between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Sometimes we simply have to choose between ‘wrong’ and ‘wrong’ and simply have to trust in God to forgive us anyway. Still, what is ‘righteous anger’? Is what we feel ‘righteous’, or is it our ego speaking? More often than not it is our ego speaking, and that’s not the motivator that God wants to see in our life.

    • Mark Seguin says:

      Add a big Amen to this truth: regarding Righteous anger “More often than not it is our ego speaking, and that’s not the motivator that God wants to see in our life.” 🙂

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