“Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21)
We are told that that acts of the sinful nature are obvious but how many of us would expect to see ‘fits of rage’ there alongside sexual immorality and witchcraft etc? And what about Jesus, overturning the tables in the temple, isn’t that a sin, did he lose his temper?
When we look at the incident across the gospels, we see a picture of someone who is very much in control. Mark writes;
“Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.” (Mark 11:11-12)
“On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written:
“‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:15-17)
So Jesus did not react in a fit of rage, his response was measured and appropriate. He looked at what was going on, spent the night (probably praying) considering the situation and the following day he acted.
There is a difference between being angry and losing one’s temper. We are told many times in the Old Testament that there are things that make God angry. He is rightly angry with sin and his response, like that of the Lord Jesus in the temple, is measured appropriate and devastating.
There are things that should make us angry, not in a way that provokes a sinful reaction (Psalm 4:4), but we should not be content with the sin around us. The case of Stephen Lawrence, a young man murdered in a racist attack left me feeling very angry, angry with his attackers, some of whom are still at liberty, and angry with the authorities over the way that they let down Stephen, his friend and fellow victim Duwayne Brooks and Stephen’s family.
We should be angry with the sin around us, sin that destroys lives and eats away at our community.
Lord, fill us with a passion to bring the change that you desire