The Myth of “Righteous Anger”

Search “righteous anger” on Bible Gateway

Since I know you didn’t actually do that, let me tell you what it says. Nothing shows up.

Those two words don’t appear side by side in the Bible. 

In fact, James 1:20 says quite the opposite

{for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God}

So where did this term come from?

Who came up with the idea of “righteous anger”?

Who decided that as Christians it would be righteous of us to be angry, even if our anger is directed towards sin? 

God doesn’t need our anger or want our anger. He didn’t call us to anger. He called us to love. That’s what Jesus emphasized over and over during His earthly ministry. 

If anyone were going to be angered by sin, it should have been Jesus. He was the one they were sinning against. He was the one who was going to have to bleed and die for it. And He is the only one to ever walk this earth and not be just like them — sinners. And yet there are very few times when the Bible mentions Jesus getting angry or acting in anger. 

Jesus didn’t ignore the injustices all around Him, but rather than letting His actions be fueled by anger, He let them be fueled by compassion and love. 

Love is what God commands in the Great Commandment. Love is what Paul describes as bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring all things (1 Corinthians 13:8). Love is what Jesus showed on the cross to a broken and dying world, devoid of any reason to be loved. Love is what no one deserves, by what Christ calls us to show. 

Anger won’t draw anyone to the Father, but love will

“Jesus will not accept the common distinction between righteous indignation and unjustifiable anger. The disciple must be entirely innocent of anger, because anger is an offence against both God and his neighbour.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

There are surely injustices in this world. There are surely things we must fight against in this world. But rather than convincing ourselves that our anger towards these things is righteous and is what should be going on, why don’t we focus on letting love drive us to do great things. To share hope and comfort with this broken world. And to point every person that we see back to Jesus. 

I’m not here to tell you you’re an awful human for getting angry. I’m here to tell you that unless we do something with that anger, unless we allow Christ to take it from us and replace it with love and passion to do something about the injustice in our world, then it’s meaningless. And worse than that, it’s stealing our joy. 

When you really think about it, why would we want to be angry in the first place? I sure don’t want to be. I don’t like how it makes me feel and I certainly don’t like the person that I am when I’m angry. So, as much as possible, I’m going to choose not to be angry. Even if it seems like I’m in the right, or that my anger may be “righteous”. I don’t want to choose anger anymore, I want to choose love. 

Taryn

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