This week we continue working through Jerry Bridges’ book Respectable Sins. The respectable sin for this week is anger. Let’s get started by defining anger.
Anger is defined as:
A strong feeling of displeasure and usually antagonism often accompanied by sinful emotions, words, and actions hurtful to those who are the object of our anger.
One form of anger is righteous anger. We would like to think this is the form of anger we often exercise, but most of the time it’s not. How do we know? We can employ two tests to see if our anger is righteous.
First, do we perceive the action of another as true evil that is a violation of God’s moral law?
If we do see it as a violation of God’s moral law, we should be concerned about God and His will, not concerned about ourselves and our will. In other words, is our focus on God and His will or on me and my will?
Second, are you in control when you are angry?
Those who are angry for righteous reasons are not out of control. They do not lose their temper, nor do they seek vengeance.
Conclusion of Two Tests
I believe when we employ these two tests, we find our anger is not as righteous as we first thought. Even if we are “reacting to another person’s real sin that does not necessarily make our anger righteous. We are likely more concerned with the negative impact of the sinful actions on us than we are that it is a violation of God’s law. Or we may even use the fact that it is a violation of God’s law to justify our own sinful angry response.” If either of these cases are true, then our anger is not righteous anger, but sinful.
An Example of Righteous Anger
Jesus cleansing the temple is an example of righteous anger. Look with me at the following two verses.
“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.””
“And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
When we apply the test above to Jesus’ actions, we see that:
- Jesus had a valid concern for the Lord’s will – He did not want the temple to be a den of robbers, but a house of prayer.
- Jesus did not retaliate in a vengeful way.
- Jesus is self-controlled.
- Jesus did not lose His temper.
We can conclude that Jesus’ actions were done in righteous anger.
Questions for Reflection
- Can you think of sins others commit that would cause us to be more concerned with the negative impact on us than on God?
- Have you ever used others violation of God’s law as a way to justify your own sinful anger?
The next post in this series will deal with sinful anger and its causes.
 Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 122.