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5 Hidden Dangers of “Righteous” Anger

5 Hidden Dangers of “Righteous” Anger

As I look around at the state of the American church, there is something that seems to be more apparent to me than ever before. There are a lot of angry Christians out there. Many are angry over the direction of our country, political issues, social issues, even the economy. As these issues continue to exist, many people like to frame their anger and say it is righteous anger or righteous indignation.

While it is possible this could be true, I want to warn you to be careful because there are some hidden dangers in this “righteous” anger. While anger by itself is not sinful, what you do with it can be. The irony is whether you attempt to qualify your anger as righteous or not, the same dangers still apply.

Hidden Danger #1 - It's Not Truly Righteous Anger

When people talk about righteous anger they often point to the time when Jesus got angry and overturned the tables in the temple.

“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:12-13).

They often use this as the basis or justification for their own anger. Here is the question you must really ponder – is it truly righteous anger? If you focus on the reason Jesus got angry, you will notice something. He did not get angry over how he was treated, he got angry over how others were being treated. The people were being exploited and taken advantage of and he was disturbed by this.

Let me ask you, if you are the angry one, what is driving your anger? Are you angry over the way other people are being treated or mistreated, or is your anger a byproduct of your way of life being threatened? In other words, is your anger about you or about someone else?

When Jesus was mistreated, he rarely got angry, but it was much different when he saw someone else being mistreated, especially those who were the most vulnerable. So be careful because if your anger is wrapped around yourself and your issues, and not focused on someone else’s mistreatment, then it may not be righteous anger at all.

Hidden Danger #2 - It’s an Excuse to Cover Your Own Failures

Sometimes people get angry to cover their own sin and hypocrisy. Rather than deal with their own issue, they will shift the conversation to the fault of someone else. Here is how Jesus addressed this hypocrisy.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).

Anger that is motivated by righteousness should flow from a heart that has been self-examined. By examining your own heart first, it allows you to see the planks in your own eyes before you attempt to remove the speck from someone else’s.

As you draw near to God and more of his character is formed in you, this will allow you to see things much more clearly. This will cause you to look inward first, and who knows, after doing this you may find no cause to remain angry at the situation.

Hidden Danger #3 – You Are Quick to Get Angry or Are Always Angry

Even though the Bible highlights moments in Jesus’ life where he did get angry, this was not the normal pattern of his life. He didn’t walk around angry all the time, nor was he quick to get angry. If you are angry all the time or are quick-tempered, that is not righteous anger. Listen to what God’s word says about this.

“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness” (Proverbs 14:29, NLT).

“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared” (Proverbs 22:24-25).

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

If anger is your calling card, then there is a problem. I am not saying you won’t have moments where you will experience genuine righteous anger, but these moments should not happen all the time. Jesus was not an angry person, and if you find yourself angry all the time or very easily angered, there is something wrong.

Hidden Danger #4 – Anger Does Not Produce Righteousness

Another thing to be mindful of is that anger does not produce righteousness. While your righteousness may produce a righteous anger, that should only be short lived. As I said earlier, if you live in a perpetual state of anger, there is a problem. That anger will not produce righteousness in you.

These are not my words but God’s words. Let me revisit the verse in James for a moment and look at the next verse along with it:

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20).

Again, I want to highlight that James is not saying don’t get angry, but don’t be quick to get angry. When you live in anger, whether you think it is righteous or not, it will not produce good long-term results.

Hidden Danger #5 – Anger Can Lead to Sin

If you decide that you are going to hold onto your “righteous” anger, the Bible warns anger can lead to sin. The interesting thing is the Bible puts no qualifiers on the type of anger that can lead to sin. If you think holding on to righteous anger will not lead you into sin, unfortunately you are wrong. Listen to what God says:

“An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins” (Proverbs 29:22).

“’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27).

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil” (Psalm 37:8).

While anger is an emotion we may all experience from time to time, it was never meant to be an emotion we live in perpetually. If your actions are dictated by anger, there is a high possibility those actions may lead you to sin, even if the anger is justified.

Final Thoughts

I want to leave with a thought – anger is an emotion and emotions are not sinful. It is what you do with them that matters. If you see something that produces righteous anger in you, then express that anger to God in prayer. Remember our fight is not physical, it is spiritual, so when you see things going haywire, recognize the spiritual forces which are at work behind the scenes and get angry over that. After all Satan and his forces are our real enemy and he is the one who should be the object of our anger.

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Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com