“Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back — in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.” – Fredrick Buechner
We live in an angry world. People stand at the border throwing rocks at each other. Guns are flashed in grade schools. Fists are bared in parking lots. Words fly in suburban homes. Spouses slam doors, closing the bond that they once had. People stand in front of the cameras demanding their “rights.” Republicans hurl names. Democrats throw them back.
True, Anger can be a great motivator to right things. I get angry over tripping over that threshold and I finally fix it. I get angry that the broken screen window keeps me up at night, so I do something about it. I get angry at sin and finally, have enough of it, and start making changes.
It’s easy to think that my anger is different, somehow justified.
We can get angry at the right things, and we can get angry at the wrong things. It takes a wise person to pull off Righteous Indignation. I think it’s parceled out in very small portions.
In the hands of a man or a woman following the ways of the Lord, anger is a motivator to rid the world of evil or to right wrongs. Henry Beecher said “A man that does not how to angry does not how to be good. A man that does not know how to be shaken to his heart’s core with indignation over things evil is either a fungus, or a wicked man”
But righteous indignation often turns to unholy anger. We gun down abortion doctors in a pro-life demonstration. We ‘punish’ the Jews for thousands of years for the Roman’s role in the crucifixion. We sent legions of armies in the middle ages to lands to engage in ‘holy’ wars. We sent ships to the new world to convert the Indians, and if they didn’t, we burnt their towns. Righteous anger comes only upon those who are changed and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Many who read these words carry anger from years gone by. Some are saddled with the memories of terrible abuse — physical, verbal, mental or sexual. Your anger is valid and it needs to be completely healed. But can it really be called Righteous? I don’t know.
I’ve been angry at those who wronged me. I held on to the anger like a favorite sweater, pulling it on to keep me warm.
One of the things that give me comfort is that fact that I don’t have to go back to the past and try to patch it all together. I don’t have to scrutinize every last detail and regurgitate all the wicked deeds. I don’t have to ask “why?”
In the light of God’s mercy towards me, my anger suddenly doesn’t seem so righteous now.