Righteous Anger – Church at Ephesus
Many years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation from his place of exile on the island of Patmos. He delivered a message from Christ to the church at Ephesus, and by extension to all who would read and heed Christ’s advice. Many hardships had befallen those early Christians. The temple had been destroyed, their nation had been ravaged, and a million had died in warfare. Most of the apostles were gone, and the Jews had banished Christians from their synagogues. God chides the church at Ephesus for their lack of love in these harsh times, but he also praises them. Why? They hated the same things that Christ hates. What angered God, also angered these brethren, so they would not tolerate the false teachings of the Nicolaitans.
Righteous Anger – Having the Mind of Christ
God’s defining feature is love, and yet the flip side of that characteristic is that he must hate evil. In dealing with the hard hearts and merciless, murderous attitudes of the religious authorities, Jesus was angry! But this anger was not just a fleeting thought or emotion prompted by their lack of concern for the man with a withered hand. Rather, Jesus’ anger (orge) was a fixed, passionate, opposition to the hard-heartedness of those he had come to know all too well over time. If we have the mind of Christ, then we will have that same angry response to behaviour that is destructive. Our anger will be reserved for those who motivated by selfish, evil motives stifle or reject the truth.
Be Angry…but don’t Sin
The indignation against sin can have a powerful healing effect in our lives and the lives of others. We must hate sin, and let our anger against sinful behaviour motivate us to reject evil and draw close to God. Paul advises us to be angry when it is warranted. But, we must avoid letting the anger overwhelm us, embitter us, or prompt us to sin. There is no place for spite, malice, or malevolence in righteous anger. God’s will is that we should embrace a life of peace with everyone. And where possible we should demonstrate love, even for our enemies. Vengeance is God’s prerogative and not ours. So righteous anger must be tempered with this realization, so we do not seek revenge in our anger.