Is My Anger Righteous?
God calls us to be angry about the right things.
By Paul David Tripp, Guest Contributor
It’s unavoidable: this week you were angry. Everyone was in some way. When you look back on your anger, what do you see?
The prophet Micah writes, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). This passage calls us to a lifestyle of righteous anger.
But how do we know if our anger is considered “righteous” by God?
Righteous anger is selfless
In Micah 6:8, the Lord requires us to 1) act justly, 2) love mercy, and 3) walk humbly.
Ask yourself: What will cause me to act justly? Is it not righteous indignation at the perversion of justice, which causes innocent people to suffer and permits the guilty to go free? What will cause me to respond to others in mercy? Is it not anger at the suffering around me in this broken world? If I want to be part of what God is doing, will I not hate what He hates?
If I want to be part of what God is doing, will I not hate what He hates?
Suffering must not be okay with us. Injustice must not be okay with us. The immorality of the culture around us must not be okay with us. The deceit of the atheistic worldview, the philosophical paradigm of many culture-shaping institutions, must not be okay with us.
Righteous anger should yank us out of selfish passivity. Righteous anger should call us to join God’s revolution of grace. It should propel us to do anything we can to lift the load of people’s suffering, through the zealous ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to bring them into the freedom of God’s truth.
Righteous anger is compassionate
What does this holy anger look like? It’s kind and compassionate. It’s tender and giving. It’s patient and persevering. It’ll make your heart open and your conscience sensitive.
Though you are busy, it will cause you to slow down and pay attention. It’ll cause you to expand the borders of your concern beyond you and yours. It’ll cost you money, time, energy, and strength. It’ll fill your schedule and complicate your life. It’ll mean sacrifice and suffering.
When your anger is righteous, you won’t be content with comfort and ease. When you’re both good and angry, you won’t fill your life so full meeting your own needs or realizing your own ministry dreams that you’ve little time for being God’s tool to meet the needs of others.
But all of this requires a fight. Not a fight with people or social movements or political institutions. No, this is an internal fight. It’s a fight for the heart.
Kindness, compassion, gentleness, mercy, love, patience, and grace don’t come naturally to us. They only come when powerful, transforming grace progressively wins the fight for our hearts. Only grace can win the fight between God’s will and our will, between God’s plan and our plan, between God’s desire and our desire, and between God’s sovereignty and our quest for self-rule. As long as sin still lives in our hearts, this fight rages in every situation and location of our lives.
Only grace can win the fight between God’s will and our will.
Righteous anger desires good
If we’re ever going to be tools of the gracious anger of a righteous and loving God, we must begin by admitting the coldness and selfishness of our own hearts. We must cry out for the rescue that only His grace can give. We must pray for seeing eyes and willing hearts. We must make strategic decisions to put ourselves where need exists. We must determine to slow down so that when opportunities for mercy present themselves, we’re not too distracted or too busy.
Most of all, those of us who’ve been called to represent the character and call of God in local church ministry need to pray that we would be righteously angry. We must pray that a holy zeal for what’s right and good would so fill our hearts that the evils greeting us daily would not be okay with us.
We must be agitated and restless until His kingdom has finally come, and His will is finally being done on earth as it is in heaven.
We must pray that we’d be angry in this way until there’s no reason to be angry anymore. And we must be vigilant, looking for every opportunity to express the righteous indignation of justice, mercy, wisdom, grace, compassion, patience, perseverance, and love. We must be agitated and restless until His kingdom has finally come, and His will is finally being done on earth as it is in heaven. For the sake of God’s honor and His kingdom, we must determine to be good and angry at the same time.
As you look back on your week, evaluate your anger: Did your anger result from building your temporary kingdom or seeking God’s eternal kingdom? Did your anger propel you to be a healer, a restorer, a rescuer, and a reconciler? Or did your anger leave a legacy of fear, hurt, disappointment, and division?
God calls you to be good, and He calls you to be angry at the same time. This broken world desperately needs people who will answer His call.
Paul David Tripp
Dr. Paul David Tripp (M.Div, Westminster Theological Seminary), a longtime fan of BSF, is a pastor, speaker, and award-winning author known for the bestselling everyday devotional New Morning Mercies. He and his wife, Luella, recently celebrated 50 years of marriage. They live in Philadelphia and have four adult children and six grandchildren.
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I aspire to lead a life that aligns with God’s purpose on earth. I am grateful for your comprehensive message, as it has aided in my self-reflection and guided me toward fulfilling my role as a messenger of God.
I understand the writer in regards to anger, anger is defined as “a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility.
Grief; trouble; distress; anguish”. Anger does apply to the feelings when we ponder and view the state of the culture and this world. It must be used productively through the Holy Spirit given to us and pleasing to our Heavenly Father. Anger that produces rage and vengeance is not a quality from our Lord and Savior, this is when it is used unproductively and is not of course Christ like. Humans do get angry, the bible states in Ephesians 4:26 states: in your anger do not sin, which to me means feel it as an emotional response as a human, think it through while processing it, more importantly, ask yourself what does the scriptures say about anger and how the word of God can be applied to the feeling of anger and then as Christians we will be moving in the right direction.