Justly Angry or Just Angry?

God asks 3 questions in Jonah 4, and 2 of them are somewhat similar because they both involve the issue of anger. Essentially, God asked Jonah, “Do you have a right [just casue] to be angry?” Sure, he was referring to Jonah’s anger towards God the first time, and then to the vine the second time. But the fundamental issue of anger is still present.

So was God actually implying there can be just causes for anger? You bet! Don’t misunderstand me — Jonah didn’t have one. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be one ever.

For instance, Jesus was righteously angry with the misuse of his Father’s house, and he threw out the abusers (Matthew 21:12-13). And Paul said “in your anger don’t sin” (Eph. 4:26). James even instructed us to be “slow to become angry” (James 1:19). Notice he didn’t say never become angry, just be slow to get angry. Why? Because quick anger is usually the wrong kind of anger; it is a man-type of anger, not a God-type of anger.

Now back to Jonah…Basically, God wanted to know if Jonah was justly angry or just angry? What’s the difference? The focus of the anger! In Jonah’s case, he was hoping for an end to his enemies when he should have been hoping for an end to their wickedness. He was fixated on the end result from man’s perspective when he should have been hoping for an end to their sin from God’s perspective.

What’s at the end of your anger — sin or sinners? When wickedness is the focus of our anger, it’s a rightoues indignation; we are justly angry. (Check out Duet. 9 for an example of God’s just anger against sin, not sinners.) But when people are at the end of our anger, then we’re just angry; we’re selfishly upset, not righteously indignant.

Bottom line? “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” (Props to the old-time preachers I grew up on!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *