In Eph. 4:26 we are given an improbable assignment: “In your anger do not sin.” Exactly how do we do that? We understand that our anger is often caused by Blocked goals (Part I) or by Fear (Part II). How is it possible for us to be angry without sinning?

It’s determined by the source, and object, of our anger. God is described as “burning with anger” numerous times in the Old Testament, yet he is holy. Jesus became angry numerous times in the New testament, yet he was without sin. They provide the clue.

When anger is directed toward sin, hypocrisy, injustice or the defaming of God’s glory, it is righteous. When anger is directed toward others out of self-promotion, it is sin.

Romans 2:8 says: “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”

In describing genuine love I Cor. 13:15 says: “It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered…”

Sinful anger rises up whenever it is primarily about Me. Righteous anger rises up when it is about God, his principles and others.

Jesus became angry when pious teachers of the law deceived the ignorant and he called them a “brood of vipers.” He tossed the tables of money-stealers who used God’s house to cheat others. He got in the way of a group of self-righteous condemners who couldn’t wait to kill a frightened, obviously sinful woman.

Righteous anger rises up in defense of justice, kindness, trust and goodness. It rises up in defense of God’s Name and his glory. It rises up in defense of  and the weak, the powerless, the abused, the widow, the orphan, the lonely, the homeless, the crippled, the ignored, the outsider, the condemned, the lost.

“In your anger do not sin.”

Lord, grant us the ability to ignore the personal offenses we so often get angry about. And give us the courage to rise up in righteous anger whenever we encounter your Name being mocked, your principles being ignored, and others at risk being harmed.