Sometimes being confrontational is a necessity. Jesus shows us this clearly in Matthew 21:12-13 that confrontation is sometimes not only the right thing to do, but biblically warranted.
Jesus went into the temple and threw out all those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves!” (Matthew 21:12-13 CSB)
Jesus was angered by the blasphemous practices of the Pharisees in the temple, His Father’s house. Their complete disregard for the reverence of God’s name was evident through their actions.
Sometimes, under the appropriate circumstance, being angry is the godly response. Of course, I am referring to righteous indignation, as this is what Jesus was giving us an example of. Being angry about sin and the blasphemy of God’s name should make us angry—for righteousness’ sake.
Moreover, what are some things we should have righteous indignation over? We can think of prominent examples like abortion and racism. Both sins take a direct shot at the image of God—the imago Dei. The heinous sins of abortion and racism should make every Christians righteously angry about the attack of people made in the image of God, whether they are unborn or a different color than you.
These, of course, are just two examples. There are countless more. But we must stop right here for a second. We can be quick to go looking for things to be angry about, which may reveal more about our character than it does about the sins around us. When you become angry—even at sins like abortion and racism—you must be quick to remind yourself that you are not Jesus: your righteous indignation can become sinful anger quickly.
Think about this: There is a fine line between confronting like Jesus did in the temple and simply being a jerk.
I’m sure that not too many people have heard of Steven Anderson. He is an Independent Fundamental King-James-Only Baptist preacher in Arizona. He is widely known for his childish antics and temper tantrums behind the pulpit. To the rational eye, it’s evident that Anderson simply has anger and hatred in his heart—for anybody. What you see in his clips are not good examples of righteousness indignation, but of sinful anger.
This, to me, is a great example of what we look like sometimes when we think we’re displaying righteous indignation. It’s not righteous indignation; it’s simply our sin-stained hearts lashing out in anger. I do understand that, after watching a few clips of Anderson in action, you’ll notice he’s a bit extreme—and he is. It’s an exaggerated example, but one that encapsulates what I’m talking about.
We get sinfully angry, receive backlash from others, and toss up the “I’m being persecuted for righteousness’ sake!” No, you’re receiving criticism because you’re acting like a jerk.
Don’t get me wrong, I can do this. We all can. But there are far too many Christians that make an unfortunate habit out of this, definitely on social media.
But, alas, back to my main point. Sometimes it’s necessary to be confrontational. Confronting is not inherently sinful; being angry is not innately bad. It comes down to the posture of the heart. You always need your speech to be “gracious, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6)” even while confronting. Seeing the insane amount of abortions performed in the United States each year makes my blood boil. Witnessing racism in all shapes and forms makes me want to pull my hear out. Why? Because both issues are a satanic attack on the image of God.
And it’s not just towards the image of God. You can have righteous indignation when peddlers of false gospels purposefully distort the true message of the cross. It is easy to laugh, but it also makes my head explode seeing the preposterous things Kenneth Copeland says, for example (just watch his viral video on COVID-19).
The world is not going to understand your godly anger, but Jesus does. The world will marginalize and even persecute you, but Jesus will be there. Don’t be afraid to be bold in your witness and step up for what you know to be true! Let the Holy Spirit guide your heart for when to be angry and when to be calm. If you do that, you can’t go wrong.