Anger and Indignation
“Every man must be . . . slow about wrath; for man’s wrath does not produce God’s righteousness.”—Jas. 1:19, 20.
1. What kind of characteristic is anger, and what should Christians do about it?
ANGER is the antithesis of mild temper. The latter is a quality very desirable for Christians to cultivate. The former is an old-world characteristic that should be brought into subjection as rapidly as possible. It is true, the desires of the flesh become evident on many occasions and one’s giving evidence of this is often manifested in fits of anger. In imperfection, an individual may be exasperated by another, but he should not let his wrath gain control so he makes his brother his enemy.
2. If anger arises between two Christians, what should they do about it, and when?
2 Anger may not be allowed to linger within the mind of an individual, because of the fact that soon it will certainly grow into a mountain of dissension. Paul, in his counsel in this connection, mentioned: “Be angry, and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with you in a provoked state, neither allow place for the Devil.” In other words, if a person has been provoked to anger or becomes infuriated toward another, an amicable settlement or understanding should be worked out between those involved. It should be accomplished the same day so as not to permit an unhealthy and unchristian situation to exist. The psalmist also advised: “Be agitated but do not sin.” So here again recommendation is given to direct Christian thinking to Jehovah’s principles and a mild disposition.—Eph. 4:26, 27, 31; Ps. 4:4.
3. Why should one be “slow about wrath”?
3 Wrath is a quarrelsome trait to be shunned. Scriptural admonition enlightening us on this is expressed in this way: “Never be hasty in your anger; it is only fools who cherish wrath. Never ask why the past was better than the present: that is a foolish question.” It is a fleshly influence, a carry-over from the old world inherently; and the Christian should strive to preclude it from mind and follow the counsel of being “slow about wrath.”—Eccl. 7:9, 10, Mo; Jas. 1:19.
4. (a) With what other traits is anger classified by God’s Word? (b) Why should ill-tempered persons be avoided?
4 Violent anger is spoken of adversely in God’s Word, to the extent of being classified with fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, hatreds, strife and contentions. (Gal. 5:19-21) It is a good thing to avoid those who practice and who are constantly afflicted with ill tempers, because one is liable to be contaminated and in a fit of anger pay back in like kind. We are to avoid such persons, because by having fellowship with them one would soon deteriorate. “Never join anyone who gets angry, never deal with a hot-tempered man; for you may learn his ways and land yourself in danger.” In direct contrast we are also told by the same writer: “Good men’s talk is like rare silver: a bad man’s views are little worth.”—1 Cor. 15:33; Prov. 22:24, 25; 10:19, 20, Mo.
BIBLE EXAMPLES OF ANGER
5. To what extent was Saul’s anger aroused against David?
5 In Saul’s hot pursuit of David with intent to kill him he asked his son Jonathan to assist in disposing of David as an enemy. Because Jonathan sided with David, Saul’s immediate reaction of anger and hate rose to a high pitch, as stated at 1 Samuel 20:30-33: “Then Saul’s anger grew hot against Jonathan and he said to him: ‘You son of a rebellious maid, do I not well know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the secret parts of your mother? For all the days that the son of Jesse is alive on the ground you and your kingship will not be firmly established. So now send and fetch him to me, for he is destined for death.’ However, Jonathan answered Saul his father and said to him: ‘Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’ At that Saul went hurling the spear at him to strike him, and Jonathan came to know that it had been determined upon by his father to put David to death.” In his rage Saul endeavored to kill David and later turned his rage against his own son Jonathan.
6. (a) How did Uzziah react to the priest’s counsel when he overstepped his duties as king in regard to the burning of incense in the sanctuary? (b) What judgment from Jehovah was meted out?
6 Another classic example is the case of Uzziah when he ruled as king. As soon as he grew strong in this high position, his heart became haughty, due to his acting contemptuously against the Word of God in that he went into the temple to burn incense. The priest, Azariah, with other priests, drew this to Uzziah’s attention by stating: “It is not your business, O Uzziah, to burn incense to Jehovah, but it is the business of the priests the sons of Aaron . . . Go out from the sanctuary, for you have acted unfaithfully.” But the king revolted, as we note from the record: “But Uzziah became enraged while in his hand there was a censer for burning incense, and, during his rage against the priests, leprosy itself flashed up in his forehead before the priests in the house of Jehovah beside the altar of incense.” Jehovah’s righteous judgment came to the fore in behalf of his priestly representative.—2 Chron. 26:16-19.
7. How did Moses and Aaron err by showing their anger before the nation of Israel?
7 While Moses had been a faithful servant for many years, it is interesting to note what occurred on an occasion when the Israelites were quarreling with Moses in their rebellion against Jehovah, stating that it would have been better for them to have expired before Pharaoh, rather than to have been brought up into the wilderness and permitted to die there because of lack of water. Rather than handling the matter calmly and acting submissively to Jehovah, Moses and Aaron manifested a provoked spirit, as shown in the words of Numbers 20:10: “Hear, now, you rebels! Is it from this crag that we shall bring out water for you?” Notice in this statement that Moses and Aaron, in a fit of rage, failed to give Jehovah credit for having provided the water miraculously, and apparently assumed credit to themselves rather than glorifying Jehovah before the congregation.
8. (a) What did Haman endeavor to accomplish when filled with rage? (b) And as a result, what happened to him?
8 Haman the Amalekite in his subtleness caused a kingly decree to be issued that all were to bow down before him. Nevertheless, the true servant of God, Mordecai, would not yield to such a course of honor to God’s condemned enemy. (Ex. 17:14-16) When Haman observed that Mordecai the Jew would not capitulate and prostrate himself, the record tells us: “Haman became filled with rage. . . . Haman began seeking to annihilate all the Jews who were in all the realm of Ahasuerus.” Haman’s heart continued to harden, and he was determined to have Mordecai hanged and God’s people destroyed. Of course, we know from God’s Word that the tables were turned upon Haman and he was executed, and Mordecai, Esther and the Jews were freed from the effect of the edict by being told to stand for their lives.—Esther 3:5, 6; 8:10-12.
9. Rather than responding favorably to the words of Jesus when he spoke in the synagogue, how did some of the Jews react?
9 When Jesus spoke to the crowd in the synagogue and read particularly from the scroll of Isaiah in advising them that on this very day the scripture was being fulfilled, the reaction on the part of many of the listeners was not that of heeding and recognizing the Messiah, but, instead, as we are told at Luke 4:28, 29, “all those hearing these things in the synagogue became filled with anger, and they rose up and hurried him outside the city, and they led him to the brow of the mountain upon which their city had been built, in order to throw him down headlong.” Yes, again, we find those who professed to be in covenant relationship with Jehovah, in a fit of hostility not only rejecting his Son but seeking to kill him.
10. How did the crowd respond after listening to Stephen relate the historical record of the Jews?
10 It is engaging to note how, when Stephen was brought before the Sánhedrin, he related the history and record of the Jews, up to the coming of the Messiah. He courageously informed them, too, how they persecuted those who had been heralding the righteous One, and that they had not kept the law. The resulting anger against Stephen is declared at Acts 7:54-58: “At hearing these things they felt cut to their hearts and began to gnash their teeth at him. . . . they cried out at the top of the voice and put their hands over their ears and rushed upon him with one accord. And after throwing him outside the city they began casting stones at him.” Diabolically infuriated, they killed Stephen.
11. Why is Jehovah’s wrath not improper?
11 It still should be borne in mind that there is a difference between anger and righteous indignation. We know that Jehovah’s wrath is going to be poured out upon the wicked enemies, as he has so frequently stated in his Word. While Jehovah is slow to anger, it does not mean that his anger cannot be aroused by unrighteous behavior. We are told by the prophet Nahum (1:6, AS): “Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken asunder by him.” Just as much as Jehovah’s hand of protection is over the faithful servants and those filled with exclusive love for him, his wrath and destructive forces will operate against the wicked, and they will not escape.
12. (a) What did David have to say about Jehovah’s anger? When will it reach a zenith of manifestation? (b) May Christians show indignation?
12 A manifestation of his wrath is pointed out by David at Psalm 69:24, 25: “Pour out upon them your denunciation, and may your own burning anger overtake them. Let their walled camp become desolate; in their tents may there come to be no dweller.” So we see by Jehovah’s own words and by those spoken by his faithful servant that it is in proper order for righteous indignation to be expressed against God’s enemies. His abhorrence of wickedness will climax with the annihilation of it at Armageddon. So we, too, as Christians may show disdain against the things of this world as they are in opposition to Jehovah. It is not required that we condone unrighteousness. In fact, the contrary is true—we must love righteousness and hate iniquity. There is a proper time for each, as we are told: “For everything there is an appointed time . . . a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”—Eccl. 3:1, 8.
13. What things does Jehovah hate?
13 It is most interesting to note some of the things that are despicable to Jehovah. Such information is set forth in these words: “There are six things that Jehovah does hate, yes, seven are things detestable to his soul: lofty eyes, a false tongue, and hands that are shedding innocent blood, a heart fabricating hurtful schemes, feet that are in a hurry to run to badness, a false witness that launches forth lies, and anyone sending forth contentions between brothers.” Going a little farther, we are advised: “The fear of Jehovah means the hating of bad. Self-exaltation and pride and the bad way and the perverse mouth I have hated.” So, truly, we have adequate cause for deploring and may properly deplore the things that Jehovah hates.—Prov. 6:16-19; 8:13.
14. What did David hate, and what did he love?
14 A servant of Almighty God stated on another occasion: “Owing to your orders I behave with understanding. That is why I have hated every false path. . . . I have considered all orders regarding all things to be right; every false path I have hated. The double-minded ones I have hated, but your law I have loved. Falsehood I have hated and I do keep detesting it.”—Ps. 119:104, 128, 113 (margin), 163.
15. How may Christian ministers today look upon those that violate Jehovah’s right principles?
15 In view of this, when some within a congregation violate Jehovah’s laws and disregard his principles by committing adultery, fornication, reviling, or being a drunkard, those of the congregation would naturally be expected to abhor those who practice such things. In fact, that is why it is important that the congregation committee exclude them from their association by disfellowshiping them. They hate those practices. And, correspondingly, those who commit them have no place in Jehovah’s honorable and clean organization.
16. How may those of the New World society regard anger and indignation?
16 How important it is, then, to evaluate properly God’s thoughts and wishes, recognizing them to be perfect and unchangeable. He hates anger and the wrathful sin of imperfect man. Knowing this, a Christian will at all times seek to direct his ways so as to conform to Jehovah’s ways and thoughts. Yes, every Christian will therefore be slow to anger and avoid wrath. And what about indignation? Let it be Jehovah’s indignation that is expressed, for he does so in righteousness, and thus he will forever destroy the hateful things that violate his principles.