What Stokes our Indignation?

And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’ And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.’

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” but you make it a den of robbers.’

 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ they were indignant, and they said to him, ‘Do you hear what these are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise”?’

In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, ‘May no fruit ever come from you again!’ And the fig tree withered at once.” Matthew 21:9-16,18-19

Expectant, happy crowds welcomed King Jesus into Jerusalem with shouts of ‘Hosanna,’ and the religious leaders stewed. Jesus saw corruption and dishonor in the temple, and chastised the money-changers’ as He overturned their tables. He healed the blind and lame who marveled at His kindness and power, and again, the priests and scribes were indignant ‘at the wonderful things He did.’ Then Jesus cursed the fruitless fig tree. In all this emotion and reaction, what, if any, anger is good?

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Righteous anger does not include sin, but is directed toward it. Jesus was vehement in His repulsion at corruption, greed, taking advantage of others, and fruitlessness, all aberrations of what God expects from His own, and He had complete control in directing and explaining His anger. Those who were stirred up and indignant against Jesus had different motives. Their anger was rooted in feeling threatened by Jesus, their fear at a possible shift of power, and maybe even jealousy, and they allowed these unrighteous passions to provoke them. (Psalm 4:4; Ephesians 4:26)

When our own self-interest awakens anger, it is difficult to stop the flow; we quickly become consumed with self-protection and pride that are hard to silence. We must determine what stokes our indignation, and rid of its cause if it is a sin itself. Offended? Ignore insults, and count yourself worthy of suffering as Jesus did for us. Desire for revenge? Let the Lord tend to it. Bitterness? Uproot it. Jealous and greedy? Be content with what you have. Lack of self-discipline with a hasty tongue? Keep quiet, listen, be thoughtful and slow to respond. (Proverbs 12:16; 15:1,18; 16:32; Isaiah 53:3-4,7; Romans 12:19; Galatians 5:23; Hebrews 12:15; 13:5; James 1:19-20; 4:1-2; 1 Peter 2:23)

Merciful Lord, expose and remove my triggers to indignation. Help me put it off, and instead put on gratitude and joyful praise. (Colossians 3:8,16)

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