From Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy:

Contemptuous actions and attitudes are a knife in the heart that permanently harms and mutilates peoples souls.  That they are common does not ease their destructiveness, (pgs. 152-153).

Why is it that contemptuous actions and attitudes are so prevalent in the church?  Why don’t we challenge this more aggressively?  Jesus calls this attitude of the heart as the moral equivalent to murder.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire, (Matthew 5:21-22, ESV).

Anger, for many of us, is not a righteous thing, but rather prideful or vengeful and it seeks to do harm.  God throughout the Bible pointed His anger at sin.  Righteous anger is anger at injustice and sin.  Not at sinners, and not just when we are sinned against which is usually the only time we are angry at sin.

Righteous anger on our parts should lead to a response that is graceful and is bathed in truth.  We should demonstrate mercy to the victims, and seek reconciliation with those who offend.

Worldly anger leads to contempt which destroys spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and even physically when taken to the fullest degree.  It never pleases God, and should not be present in the life of a follower of Christ.

But it often is.

13 comments
  1. Why even draw a line between righteous anger and plain old anger – when the line is so thin to not be recognized? Wouldn’t it be better to say the standard is a huge ‘no’ to anger – then hope people keep the standard?

    I know anger is actually not a bad thing – it’s a normal human emotion we all have when things happen to us or others that deeply hurts or offends us.

    Anger is only a problem, which I think this teacing from Jesus addresses, when it becomes plans to act upon it (and continously obsessive at that). Jesus seems to be drawing a correlation between anger at something and becoming a murderer – which is very true. But Jesus is not saying anger is ‘bad’ – but that anger – if not kept in check – is a horrible process to follow through with (even obsess upon – which leads to actual doing).

    But even righteous anger is quite bankrupt these days – anger at sin does not promote grace and truth – if we are talking about the same emotion (anger) here. Usually it leads people into fanaticism and not being level headed when dealing with an issue of ‘sin’ – they actually become harshfully judgemental and do more stupid things. Some abortion doctors did not become victims by accident – no – someone thought what they did was ‘right/just’.

    Not saying a ‘just anger’ does not exist – but I think Jesus is even addressing that also in this teaching about ‘dealing with anger’. I hate watching stuff on the Holocaust because it makes me hate the Nazi’s so much…well you know that anger I am talking about. Or when I watch the black equality movement (civil rights) in the 1960’s – my blood just boils. I get the idea of a ‘just anger’ – for things we should be angry about…with good cause. But should we act upon that anger or let it take a foothold?

    That’s the problem with anger and it being ‘just’ (which I believe is possible)…maybe it can spurn us onto dealing with these things in a ‘just way’ – then again maybe it causes such offenses in us that we react in the ‘wrong way’ (notice all these offences in the teaching are before a court). I think Jesus is teaching anger does exist and always will – but it is important to find ways to deal with it so as to not cause more problems…and this is obviously possible but I know it’s a tough one to teach.

  2. Why even draw a line between righteous anger and plain old anger – when the line is so thin to not be recognized? Wouldn’t it be better to say the standard is a huge ‘no’ to anger – then hope people keep the standard?

    I know anger is actually not a bad thing – it’s a normal human emotion we all have when things happen to us or others that deeply hurts or offends us.

    Anger is only a problem, which I think this teacing from Jesus addresses, when it becomes plans to act upon it (and continously obsessive at that). Jesus seems to be drawing a correlation between anger at something and becoming a murderer – which is very true. But Jesus is not saying anger is ‘bad’ – but that anger – if not kept in check – is a horrible process to follow through with (even obsess upon – which leads to actual doing).

    But even righteous anger is quite bankrupt these days – anger at sin does not promote grace and truth – if we are talking about the same emotion (anger) here. Usually it leads people into fanaticism and not being level headed when dealing with an issue of ‘sin’ – they actually become harshfully judgemental and do more stupid things. Some abortion doctors did not become victims by accident – no – someone thought what they did was ‘right/just’.

    Not saying a ‘just anger’ does not exist – but I think Jesus is even addressing that also in this teaching about ‘dealing with anger’. I hate watching stuff on the Holocaust because it makes me hate the Nazi’s so much…well you know that anger I am talking about. Or when I watch the black equality movement (civil rights) in the 1960’s – my blood just boils. I get the idea of a ‘just anger’ – for things we should be angry about…with good cause. But should we act upon that anger or let it take a foothold?

    That’s the problem with anger and it being ‘just’ (which I believe is possible)…maybe it can spurn us onto dealing with these things in a ‘just way’ – then again maybe it causes such offenses in us that we react in the ‘wrong way’ (notice all these offences in the teaching are before a court). I think Jesus is teaching anger does exist and always will – but it is important to find ways to deal with it so as to not cause more problems…and this is obviously possible but I know it’s a tough one to teach.

  3. Why even draw a line between righteous anger and plain old anger – when the line is so thin to not be recognized? Wouldn’t it be better to say the standard is a huge ‘no’ to anger – then hope people keep the standard?

    I know anger is actually not a bad thing – it’s a normal human emotion we all have when things happen to us or others that deeply hurts or offends us.

    Anger is only a problem, which I think this teacing from Jesus addresses, when it becomes plans to act upon it (and continously obsessive at that). Jesus seems to be drawing a correlation between anger at something and becoming a murderer – which is very true. But Jesus is not saying anger is ‘bad’ – but that anger – if not kept in check – is a horrible process to follow through with (even obsess upon – which leads to actual doing).

    But even righteous anger is quite bankrupt these days – anger at sin does not promote grace and truth – if we are talking about the same emotion (anger) here. Usually it leads people into fanaticism and not being level headed when dealing with an issue of ‘sin’ – they actually become harshfully judgemental and do more stupid things. Some abortion doctors did not become victims by accident – no – someone thought what they did was ‘right/just’.

    Not saying a ‘just anger’ does not exist – but I think Jesus is even addressing that also in this teaching about ‘dealing with anger’. I hate watching stuff on the Holocaust because it makes me hate the Nazi’s so much…well you know that anger I am talking about. Or when I watch the black equality movement (civil rights) in the 1960’s – my blood just boils. I get the idea of a ‘just anger’ – for things we should be angry about…with good cause. But should we act upon that anger or let it take a foothold?

    That’s the problem with anger and it being ‘just’ (which I believe is possible)…maybe it can spurn us onto dealing with these things in a ‘just way’ – then again maybe it causes such offenses in us that we react in the ‘wrong way’ (notice all these offences in the teaching are before a court). I think Jesus is teaching anger does exist and always will – but it is important to find ways to deal with it so as to not cause more problems…and this is obviously possible but I know it’s a tough one to teach.

  4. BY Black Equality movement and anger – I am angry at the way many Black leaders and communities were treated by their government.

  5. BY Black Equality movement and anger – I am angry at the way many Black leaders and communities were treated by their government.

  6. BY Black Equality movement and anger – I am angry at the way many Black leaders and communities were treated by their government.

  7. Hey society – I agree. Much anger should be avoided as it does lead to destructive thoughts and attitudes. Much of our anger is self-centered and concerned about vengence.

    The righteous anger that I am talking about is toward the results of sin, not the sinner – so what you describe I wouldn’t call righteous anger. I would call it contempt. Righteous anger leads us to work toward justice and to exercise mercy which is what I think you were getting at.

    James says it well, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires,” (James 1:19, ESV).

    Ephesians 4 also gives great instruction:

    “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil… Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear….Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you,” (Ephesains 4:26-27, 29, 31-32, ESV).

  8. Hey society – I agree. Much anger should be avoided as it does lead to destructive thoughts and attitudes. Much of our anger is self-centered and concerned about vengence.

    The righteous anger that I am talking about is toward the results of sin, not the sinner – so what you describe I wouldn’t call righteous anger. I would call it contempt. Righteous anger leads us to work toward justice and to exercise mercy which is what I think you were getting at.

    James says it well, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires,” (James 1:19, ESV).

    Ephesians 4 also gives great instruction:

    “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil… Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear….Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you,” (Ephesains 4:26-27, 29, 31-32, ESV).

  9. Hey society – I agree. Much anger should be avoided as it does lead to destructive thoughts and attitudes. Much of our anger is self-centered and concerned about vengence.

    The righteous anger that I am talking about is toward the results of sin, not the sinner – so what you describe I wouldn’t call righteous anger. I would call it contempt. Righteous anger leads us to work toward justice and to exercise mercy which is what I think you were getting at.

    James says it well, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires,” (James 1:19, ESV).

    Ephesians 4 also gives great instruction:

    “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil… Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear….Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you,” (Ephesains 4:26-27, 29, 31-32, ESV).

  10. See, I almost wonder if James and Paul are noting that anger is a tough one to deal with – with their letters. They almost are okay with anger – then go onto to figure anger is something to be dealt with/carefully controlled – and even go into denouncing it altogether.

    That is why I note the idea that even giving way for righteous anger is not something we can hold onto altogether – since we let it too easily slip into vengeance or contempt (as you note). Anger gives us an excuse for some attitudes and actions – but even the letter writers seem to shy away from any outright acceptance of it.

    I also see this in Jesus warning about anger and how it can lead to murder (anger being the pre-requsite to graduate to murder). Jesus does not denote a righteous anger in his teaching – but that it exists and needs to be dealt with appropriately.

    The only real time we see this demonstrated is by Jesus (and Paul/John in his letters) concerning religious leaders of communities – and how they are teaching things abstract to the will of God. But even their anger is about change (as you note) and the problems a community is having with sinful behaviour or using their power abusively. So even the idea ‘dislike the sin’ is adequate – but mainly it is focused on responsible leadership within the faith (and not so much at the underlings).

  11. See, I almost wonder if James and Paul are noting that anger is a tough one to deal with – with their letters. They almost are okay with anger – then go onto to figure anger is something to be dealt with/carefully controlled – and even go into denouncing it altogether.

    That is why I note the idea that even giving way for righteous anger is not something we can hold onto altogether – since we let it too easily slip into vengeance or contempt (as you note). Anger gives us an excuse for some attitudes and actions – but even the letter writers seem to shy away from any outright acceptance of it.

    I also see this in Jesus warning about anger and how it can lead to murder (anger being the pre-requsite to graduate to murder). Jesus does not denote a righteous anger in his teaching – but that it exists and needs to be dealt with appropriately.

    The only real time we see this demonstrated is by Jesus (and Paul/John in his letters) concerning religious leaders of communities – and how they are teaching things abstract to the will of God. But even their anger is about change (as you note) and the problems a community is having with sinful behaviour or using their power abusively. So even the idea ‘dislike the sin’ is adequate – but mainly it is focused on responsible leadership within the faith (and not so much at the underlings).

  12. See, I almost wonder if James and Paul are noting that anger is a tough one to deal with – with their letters. They almost are okay with anger – then go onto to figure anger is something to be dealt with/carefully controlled – and even go into denouncing it altogether.

    That is why I note the idea that even giving way for righteous anger is not something we can hold onto altogether – since we let it too easily slip into vengeance or contempt (as you note). Anger gives us an excuse for some attitudes and actions – but even the letter writers seem to shy away from any outright acceptance of it.

    I also see this in Jesus warning about anger and how it can lead to murder (anger being the pre-requsite to graduate to murder). Jesus does not denote a righteous anger in his teaching – but that it exists and needs to be dealt with appropriately.

    The only real time we see this demonstrated is by Jesus (and Paul/John in his letters) concerning religious leaders of communities – and how they are teaching things abstract to the will of God. But even their anger is about change (as you note) and the problems a community is having with sinful behaviour or using their power abusively. So even the idea ‘dislike the sin’ is adequate – but mainly it is focused on responsible leadership within the faith (and not so much at the underlings).

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