|Photo courtesy of Catalin82|
When we look at the pantheon of Christian virtues holy anger is probably one that most people miss, or have a hard time placing alongside things like meekness, love, generosity, patience and peace. I freely admit that the Bible is full of admonitions to not be angry. Ephesians 4:26 tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger. Colossians 3:8 tells us to put it aside, and James 1:19 explains that we should be slow to anger. However, I firmly believe that anger coming from the right place, in the right time, for the right purpose is a powerful characteristic of a godly watchman. Look again at Ephesians 4:26 it says,
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
Equally as clear as the instruction to deal with anger before the sun goes down is the statement, "Be angry." This tells me two things. First, if we are sinfully angry then we need to address that issue promptly because if we allow it to go unchecked it will result in bitterness and all kinds of other harmful things. The other thing it tells me is that if we are filled with righteous indignation over something we need to act on it immediately. Let's return to Ezekiel 3 for a moment. In this passage God commissions the prophet and tells him to go say "Thus says the Lord God" to the nation of Israel. Immediately after the commission Ezekiel is swept up in the Spirit and taken away (see verse above). The next two statements are vitally important to our understanding of the concept of holy anger.
First, Ezekiel tells us that he "went embittered in the rage of his spirit." This is the holy anger that we are talking about. Something about what was happening, or what God had shown him was, in the words of Yosemite Sam, burnin' his biscuits. It may be that Ezekiel was given a glimpse of the spiritual state of the nation from God's point of view. The text doesn't give us exactly what angered the prophet, all we know is that he was upset and the only thing he could do was go to the people and proclaim God's message.
Secondly, Ezekiel tells us that while he was embittered in the rage of his spirit "the hand of the Lord was strong on me." "Wait a minute Christian, you're going to tell me that God was going to use and bless Ezekiel even though he was angry. I thought Christians were supposed to be meek, mild, doormats for the world to wipe their feet on. You know, turn the other cheek and all." Yes, that's what I'm saying. The Bible is clear that we, as Christians, are supposed to be peaceful, loving, generous, tolerant (in the true sense not the perverted sense the world give the word) and a host of other things. However, there comes a time when enough is enough. We see this even in Christ Himself who was outraged at the way people were using the Temple for personal gain rather than worship and prayer. In the story of Jesus overturning the money changers tables you have the perfect example of holy anger. Injustice was being done and He was going to nip it in the bud.
As godly watchmen there must come a time when enough is enough. We have to look around at the world around us and say, "This isn't right. This is not according to God's will or plan. Something must be done." Are we outraged, by the fact that millions of unborn children are murdered every year? If so, will we say something about it? Does it torment out souls when we see people using God's Church for personal gain? Is our spirit embittered that Christianity has been turned into a business venture rather than a relationship with the God of the universe? What of the starving, abused, oppressed and captive of the world? Will we stand up and call God's people out of complacency and sin back to Him? Will we stand up and proclaim "Thus, says the Lord God"? God can use our righteous anger to motivate us to do something about the problem just as He did with Ezekiel.
Now let me give some important words of caution. As I mentioned the Bible is clear that anger, misused, is highly sinful. If our anger results in hatred of people Jesus tells us we have committed murder in our hearts. Some people have used holy anger to justify things like bombing abortion clinics and friends, this is absolutely wrong, wrong, wrong. There is no Biblical justification for murder and the punishment is always severe. Furthermore, our holy anger should not lead us to undue prejudice against other people. Some who claim the name of Christ have brought shame on His name by treating homosexuals with hatred. This is so far from the Biblical mandate as to be laughable. Look at Jesus' treatment of sinners He came into contact with. He always addressed the issue of sin but never berated them and He always showed them the way of escape from their sin.
Finally, and I believe this is the key to finding holy anger rather than sinful anger, we need to look at the source of our indignation. Are we upset because someone has wronged us, or are we mad because someone has wronged God and other people? Ezekiel was frustrated because the nation had turned from God and fallen into sin, not because they hurt him. The test for our holy anger is this; does it stem from a disregard for the two greatest commandment? Are people not loving God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and are they not loving their neighbors as themselves? Just as Jesus says, all the Law and the prophets hang on these two principles. Everything that is displeasing to God falls into one of these two categories.
Friends, I want to encourage you to find holy anger. Search God's Word to see what displeases Him. Search your heart to see where you have fallen short and search the world for the things that hurt the Lord. Then find the courage to take a stand and proclaim to the people, "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand." This is the duty of a godly watchman. Will you be one?