All sinful anger is hard to fight. It’s a selfish, hot-blooded passion our flesh enjoys indulging. But I find it particularly difficult to fight the sinful anger that I feel I have a right to feel.
Angry Over a Perceived Injustice
This kind of anger is different than irritation or short-term mad-flares. We usually know those are wrong, because they are usually manifestly wrong. But anger we want to justify typically results when we feel disillusioned, disappointed, discouraged, or hurt. It might be because:
- A relational conflict keeps recurring despite countless attempts at resolution;
- An intractable, exasperating personal weakness keeps dogging us despite countless attempts to change;
- We feel trapped in a difficult, painful, or apparently dead-end situation;
- A betrayal has left us suffering and our betrayer prospering;
- We are seeking God’s guidance on an important decision and he just seems quiet;
- In spite of all our labors and prayers, a reviving, regenerating move of the Holy Spirit in our family or church or community just doesn’t come.
We can feel that it’s our right to be angry over such things because from our perspective they appear unjust and therefore we feel more a victim than a sinner.
Angry Over Ambiguity
Or perhaps we’re angry over the ambiguities such situations raise for us. They leave us with questions. At a high level we know that God promises to work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), but closer to the ground, where we live, things look more ambiguous and we’re confused.
Is it possible that things are as they are because we aren’t working out our own faith like we should (Philippians 2:12–13)? Are we, like the disciples, not seeing the results we desire because our faith is defective (Matthew 17:19–20)? Are we not praying correctly or praying enough (Luke 18:1–8)? Like the twelve Christians in Ephesus, are we ignorant about something important (Acts 19:1–7)? Do we feel stuck because God isn’t acting or because we aren’t?
When we look at our situation, we aren’t exactly sure. We can think of biblical examples that point in different directions. What does God want from us? Why doesn’t he make it more clear?
Frustration builds. Perceived injustice and ambiguity can tempt us to anger. And the anger can feel seductively justifiable.
How We Know Our Anger Is Not Righteous
However, this kind of anger is not righteous anger. A tree is known by its fruit (Luke 6:43–45). We can tell if anger is sinful because we feel its defiling effect of impurity on us.
Written by Jon Bloom
Full story at Desiring God