Three Criteria of Righteous Anger

Paul Tautges writes:

“One of the most common, ongoing struggles we face in our sanctification as believers is the area of anger. And one of the most common ways we mismanage our anger is by failing to distinguish between righteous and sinful anger, and response. This failure is sometimes due to our conscious choice to not face our sin honestly, but it also can be the result of the blindness that stems from our own pride. And not one of us is exempt from this battle!”

He goes on to list three biblical criteria of righteous anger taken from passages such as when Jesus was angry (Mk 3:1-6; 10:13-16; Jn 2:13-17), and three cases of righteous anger in Saul and Jonathan (1 Sam 11:1-6; 20:24-35):

1. Righteous Anger Reacts against Actual Sin. Righteous anger arises from an accurate perception of true evil, from sin as defined biblically, i.e., as a violation of God’s Word (Rom 3:23; 1 Jn 3:4). Righteous anger does not result from merely being inconvenienced or from violations of personal preference or human tradition.

2. Righteous Anger Focuses on God and His Kingdom, Rights, and Concerns, Not on Me and My Kingdom, Rights and Concerns. In Scripture, God-centered motives, not self-centered motives, drive righteous anger. Righteous anger focuses on how people offend God and his name, not me and my name. It terminates on God more than me. In other words, accurately viewing something as offensive is not enough. We must view it primarily as offending God.

3. Righteous Anger Is Accompanied by Other Godly Qualities and Expresses Itself in Godly Ways. Righteous anger remains self-controlled. It keeps its head without cursing, screaming, raging, or flying off the handle. Nor does it spiral downward in self-pity or despair. It does not ignore people, snub people, or withdraw from people.”


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