While most Christians are chasing a modern fantasy of an irenic and affable day-to-day Christian experience, may we recognize the truth that we cannot be godly without regularly feeling and periodically expressing righteous anger. Of course I am not referring to the hot-tempered man of Proverbs 29:22, who, with selfish motive and slight provocation, explodes at those around him. I am referring to the experience of the godly Psalm writers who regularly declare, “I abhor the assembly of evildoers” (Ps.26:5), “the deeds of faithless men I hate” (Ps.101:3), “indignation grips me because of the wicked” (Ps.119:53), and “I loathe those who rise up against you O Lord” (Ps.139:21).
Unless you are living in the perfection of the New Jerusalem, you will not be able to be godly and anger-free. Christ certainly wasn’t. A cursory reading of Matthew 23 or a familiarity with Christ’s temple-clearing rampage will remind us that godliness includes a righteous frustration with the sin and blasphemy that is so ubiquitous in our fallen world. Speaking of “godly,” it is enlightening to note that of the 358 times the words for “anger” appear in the Scripture, over half of them are attributed to God himself. While we are obviously not in the position to respond as God would (and will) to the sin in our culture, historical accounts like that of Phinehas in Numbers 25:1-13, remind us that often we just are not angry enough at the sin and idolatry in our world. May God teach us to “be angry and sin not” (Eph.4:26).