One of the most challenging aspects of Christian life is dealing with anger. Specifically, righteous anger. With all of the great cultural tides swarming around us, it is quite easy to get angry these days. Angry at the changes we are seeing in culture, angry at sin, and angry at Christians or the church for a lack of response, or for responding the what we perceive is the wrong way.
Fundamentally we must understand that there are two types of anger. Righteous anger, which is fueled by the glory of God; and unrighteous anger, which is fueled by our own glory, or pride.
Righteous anger is a good thing. Why is it good? It shows that sin grieves us. A church that does not grieve sin is a callous church. A Christian that does not experience righteous anger is a callous Christian.
John Stott said this... “There is a great need in the contemporary world for more Christian anger. We compromise with sin in a way which God never does. In the face of blatant evil we should not angry not apathetic. If God hates sin, his people should hate it too. What other reaction can wickedness be expected to provoke in those who love God?”
But the difficult part is this... In your anger, do not sin... Oftentimes we lack reflection on why we are angry. Perhaps it is not truly righteous anger we are experiencing, but an idol of control or comfort that has been threatened. A loss of position. A loss of political power. A loss of reputation. None of these things are a justification for righteous anger, because they are fueled by pride. And none of these things should surprise us, Jesus told us these things would come.
We often mix genuine grieving of sin with a victim mentality. We like to think that in expressing our anger we are like Jesus turning over the tables outside the temple courts, when in reality we are just failing to tame our tongues, and failing to bear the fruit of the Spirit - self-control - in our lives. Our anger at sin must not be reckless, as reckless anger will never produce the righteousness of God. Our anger must be free from pride, spite, malice, animosity, and the Spirit of revenge. This is where it gets hard.
At the same time, we must be careful in our discourse not to criticize the anger of fellow Christians so easily. Oftentimes we criticize our brothers harshly, without knowing why a particular sin grieves them so deeply. Do we know their background? Their family situation? Their history? And worse yet, in some cases, some Christians criticize fellow believers primarily for the approval of the world or of the culture. ("See, I'm not like them..") Often it's more popular to criticize the church to the church than anything else. (FYI - only in America is there a conference circuit for this)...
Fellow Christians will and should grieve sin, they will express righteous anger. Perhaps not always in the best way, nor in the appropriate forum, but they'll do it nonetheless. It would be callous for us to not allow them to grieve the sins of others as the Spirit leads them. Don't assume that your valve for righteous anger is the same valve as everyone else. The question is whether our righteous anger is free of pride and the spirit of revenge. The truth is, all too often it's not. But if it is, don't deny to others a Biblically justifiable emotion. You may actually be quenching the Spirit.