Friday, January 18, 2013

A Quick Thought About Righteous Anger

In Luke 19:45-48, we read of what is probably the paradigmatic example of righteous anger: Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple. In this passage, we often find for ourselves a pass to experience and express anger. After all, if Jesus did it, it can’t be wrong.

We ought to be very careful about such a line of thinking though. First of all, His anger was ignited not because He had been offended, but because His Father had. My otherwise righteous anger is far too often intertwined with my own self-interest. I am not just angry that a Holy God was sinned against; I am angry that I was sinned against. And even if I try my hardest, it is impossible for me to untangle these strands.

This leads me to a second point: There is indeed a lesson for us to be learned from this passage, where we read of the cleansing of the temple. I believe it is quite informative to consider verses 45-48 in light of verses 41-44. In those immediately preceding verses, we read the following:
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” 
It seems that before Jesus was angry at sin, he was grieved by it. And the same should be true of us. Make no mistake, there is a place for righteous anger. But for every ounce of righteous anger we express, let us first experience 100 pounds of humble sorrow. And for every time our blood boils, let us be sure our tears have first fallen.

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