The prophet Micah writes, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). This passage calls us to righteous anger. Ask yourself, What will cause me to act justly? Is it not righteous indignation at the perversion of justice that causes innocent people to suffer and permits the guilty to go free? What will cause me to respond to others in mercy? Is it not anger at the suffering around you in this broken world? If you want to be part of what God is doing, will you not hate what he hates?
Suffering must not, cannot be okay with us. Injustice must not, cannot be okay with us. The immorality of the culture around us must not, cannot be okay with us. The deceit of the atheistic worldview – the philosophical paradigm of many culture-shaping institutions – must not, cannot be okay with us. Righteous anger should yank us out of selfish passivity. Righteous anger should call us to join God's revolution of grace. It should propel us to do anything we can to lift the load of people's suffering, through the zealous ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to bring them into the freedom of God's truth.
Call to War
What does this holy anger look like? It's kind and compassionate. It's tender and giving. It's patient and persevering. It will make your heart open and your conscience sensitive. Though you are busy, it will cause you to slow down and pay attention. It will cause you to expand the borders of your concern beyond you and yours. It will cost you money, time, energy, and strength. It will fill your schedule and complicate your life. It will mean sacrifice and suffering. When you're both good and angry, you won't be content with comfort and ease. When you're both good and angry, you won't fill your life so full with meeting your own needs or with realizing your own ministry dreams that you've little time for being God's tool to meet the needs of others.
But all of this requires war. Not war with people or institutions. No, this is an internal war. It's a war of the heart. Sin turns all of us toward ourselves. It can make even those of us in ministry demanding, critical, cold, and self-focused. Sin is self-absorbed and anti-social. So even in ministry, if left to ourselves, kindness, compassion, gentleness, mercy, love, patience, and grace don't come naturally to us. They only come when powerful, transforming grace progressively wins the war for our hearts. Only grace can win the war between God's will and our will, between God's plan and our plan, between God's desire and our desire, and between God's sovereignty and our quest for self-rule. As long as sin still lives in our hearts, this war rages in every situation and location of our lives.
It's hard to admit, but at the level of our hearts, we don't reach out to assist those in need because we simply don't care. Even those in ministry have the capacity to look at the dilemmas of others and not be moved. Rather than serve others in the realities of their struggles, we try to co-opt others into serving our little ministry kingdoms. Does this all seem too negative and harsh to you? I would ask, "How much of your anger in last few weeks had anything whatsoever to do with the kingdom of God?" This question is convicting for me; isn't it for you?
Rescued by Grace
So if we are ever going to be tools of the gracious anger of a righteous and loving God, we must begin by admitting the coldness and selfishness of our own hearts. We must cry out for the rescue that only his grace can give. We must pray for seeing eyes and willing hearts. We must make strategic decisions to put ourselves where need exists. We must determine to slow down so that when opportunities for mercy present themselves we're not too distracted or too busy.
Most of all, those of us who've been called to represent the character and call of God in local church ministry need to pray that we would be righteously angry. We must pray that a holy zeal for what's right and good would so fill our hearts that the evils greeting us daily would not be okay with us. We must pray that we'd be angry in this way until there's no reason to be angry anymore. And we must be vigilant, looking for every opportunity to express the righteous indignation of justice, mercy, wisdom, grace, compassion, patience, perseverance and love. We must be agitated and restless until his kingdom has finally come and his will is finally being done on earth as it is in heaven. For the sake of God's honor and his kingdom, we must determine to be good and angry at the same time.
It's inevitable: this week you will be angry. Everyone is in some way. When you look back on your anger this week, will you see anger resulting from building your temporary kingdom or seeking God's eternal kingdom? Will anger propel you to be a healer, a restorer, a rescuer, and a reconciler? Or will your anger leave a legacy of fear, hurt, disappointment, and division? God calls you to be good, and he calls you to be angry at the same time. This broken world desperately needs people who will answer his call.