Dec 9th, 2018
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 3 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill, and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to follow up on season 2 episode 2 asking the question, “Is there such a thing as righteous anger?”
First things first, in the last episode I asked if the words for anger and wrath in Ephesians 4:31 that we are advised to, “be put away,” or, “removed from us,” were the same words for anger and wrath used in Ephesians 4:26, and we never actually answered the question. So that’s where we actually are right now. In the latter case we find Paul telling us that it’s OK to be provoked to anger there in Ephesians 4:26, but not to let the sun go down on our wrath because the devil would love to use any opportunity to separate us from each other. We talked about in Ephesians 4:26 Paul using the words:
G3710 ὀργίζω orgizō or-gid'-zo From G3709; to provoke or enrage, that is, (passively) become exasperated: - be angry (wroth).
G3950 παροργισμός parorgismos par-org-is-mos' From G3949; rage: - wrath.
In Ephesians 4:31 for anger and wrath we find the words:
G3709 ὀργή orgē or-gay' From G3713; properly desire (as a reaching forth or excitement of the mind), that is, (by analogy) violent passion (ire, or [justifiable] abhorrence); by implication punishment: - anger, indignation, vengeance, wrath.
G2372 θυμός thumos thoo-mos' From G2380; passion (as if breathing hard): - fierceness, indignation, wrath. Compare G5590.
So, did Paul use the same words in Ephesians 4:26 for anger and wrath as in 4:31? Yes and no. In the case of anger the word used in verse 26 does finds its origins in the word for anger used in verse 31. They are, in essence, the same word. In the case of wrath in verse 26 it’s a different word than the word used in verse 31. Both of these words, when translated into English, can be translated as wrath, but in verse 26 the word rage better communicates the message being delivered in modern English, “Don’t let the sun go down on your rage.” There is definitely a difference between your run of the mill anger, being upset/provoked, and rage, blood pressure raised, hands shaking, singularly focused emotion. There is a difference.
Let’s pivot now, and dive into this episodes topic, “Is there such a thing as righteous anger?” It’s really a natural progression from where we are Ephesians 4:26 since the discussion about righteous anger usually starts at this verse, or at least at the beginning of this verse. The “Be angry, and do not sin.” part. The thinking there is if I can be angry and sin then I can be angry and not sin and that somehow excuses the anger. That’s the explanation for righteous anger. However, when we read the verse we see that there are actually two sentences here in this verse. The “be angry and do not sin” isn’t a complete statement by itself. There is more to the statement. That second sentence that starts in that verse continues on into verse 27, the whole sentence reads, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity.” I’m completely fine with your holding to the assertion that there is such a thing as righteous anger and that it isn’t bad or a “sin” based solely off of this statement.” I’m fine with it, that is, if you’re willing to accept the obvious conclusion of the continuation of the statement that’s being made by Paul here that all anger, even what you’ve dubbed righteous anger, opens the door and gives the devil opportunity in your life and The Church body as a whole.
Let’s take a look at another verse so that we have more perspective. James 1:20 says, “for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.” We talked about full statements. This is the take away from verse 19, it’s the end of a statement. Verse 19 reads, “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does NOT accomplish God’s righteousness.” (Emphasis my own) I like my favorite theologians take on this scripture, Matthew Henry wrote, “It is as if the apostle had said, “Whereas men often pretend zeal for God and His glory, in their heat and passion, let them know that God needs not the passions of any man; His cause is better served by mildness and meekness than by wrath and fury.” … Those who pretend to serve the cause of God (with wrath) hereby show that they are acquainted neither with God or His cause.”
In Ecclesiastes 9:17, Solomon wrote, “The calm words of the wise are heeded more than the shouts of a ruler over fools.” I came across a bit of commentary on this verse from the sixteenth century by a man named George Buchanan. Buchanan was a world renown writer who was exiled from Scotland and petitioned Henry the VIII for protection. He wrote, “...in quiet times, in the hours of retirement and reflection, when the distractions of the world are shut out, the words of wisdom come back into the mind and sink into the heart.” That, my friends, is where we want our message to resonate. In those quiet times, we want those calm words to come up. We want the Gospel that we live and preach to reach people in those quiet times, in those moments when people are lying in bed at the end of a rough day. In those times when they can hear that still small voice of the Holy Spirit beckoning them to come. That’s where we want those wise words to have effect. We can yell and scream and have bullhorns and signs, and all of these things to try and drive a hard message home. But, ultimately that’s the Holy Spirit’s job and we find the scriptures advising us that it’s our wise calm words that will then be used to do the work of the Lord in others lives.
So, is there such a thing as righteous anger? In a perfect world, there isn’t. That’s not a thing. In the world we live in, we know from the last episode that it’s OK to be provoked to anger. We’re all human, right. We also know that we have to deal with the effects of that anger on us so that we aren’t overcome with rage and so we don’t carry that mess into the next day with us. It’s when we hold onto that rage and wrath that we give the enemy a foothold into our lives and into the Church. So, yes, you can be provoked to anger by an injustice, and that anger would technically be categorized as righteous anger. However, what you choose to do with that anger once it’s there will either invalidate that righteousness, or change that anger into forward, positive momentum. The choice of which is yours. And it will be easier to do if you’ve heeded the concept we talked about in the last episode, if you’ve pulled up that anchor and created some grace for yourself.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”