Righteous Indignation

We are never instructed to deny our anger, but we are instructed to manage our emotional life by choosing to believe the truth and having the right goals for our life. The basis for our emotional stability is our identity, acceptance, security and significance in Christ. Once we are established in Christ, then the trials and tribulations of the world no longer have a negative effect on us. In fact, “We rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:3-5). The trials and tribulations of this world actually reveal wrong goals and at the same time make possible the goal for our life; i.e. that we conform to the image of God (proven character).

The Bible actually talks more about the wrath of God than it does about the wrath of man. God’s anger is not born out of His insecurity and He doesn’t have blocked goals. God’s anger is a righteous indignation toward sin. Cursing the fig tree and cleansing the temple illustrate His anger and judgment to come (Mark 11:12-28). Jesus didn’t get mad because the fig tree had no figs when He wanted some. At that time of the year, the fig tree should have had edible buds, which dropped off later when the figs came. Having no edible buds indicated that it was not going to bear any fruit. The cursing of the fig tree was a prophetic sign of God’s impending judgment on Israel, not an angry reaction because Jesus was hungry. The unproductive fig tree symbolized Israel’s spiritual barrenness.

God is incredibly patient toward those who sin. We would be much swifter about judging others and forcing them to suffer the consequences of their sin. He also turned over the tables, not the money-changers. He has the perfect capacity to separate the sin from the sinner. If that were not so, we would all be doomed. We too should have a sense of righteous indignation against sin, but we need to learn from His example how to express it.

Abraham Lincoln said, “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” Phillipp Melanchthon said, “All that is needed for sin to abound is for good men to do nothing.” Righteous indignation moves us to correct that which is wrong. If we are going to be salt and light in this fallen world, we need to speak the truth, but we need to do it in love. We should make a stand for righteousness, but we should remain silent if we can’t do it without violating the fruit of the Spirit.

Dr. Neil

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