February 6, 2023
Nehemiah - “When I heard their complaints, I was very angry.” (Nehemiah 5:6)
Nehemiah was mad. He had heard the complaints of the people, had seen how a few of Jews were exploiting the situation for financial gain, and he had heard just about enough. The harmony and well being of his people had been threatened and Nehemiah was angry. His anger was thoroughly appropriate. In a similar way, we should also get angry when someone threatens the harmony of our families, our homes, our Life groups, or our church.
Sometimes people think it is a sin to be angry. However, anger is often very appropriate. Sometimes, it's the right thing to do. This scripture says that Nehemiah was very angry. Anger is commanded by God. In Ephesians 4:26, the Apostle Paul writes, "Be ye angry and sin not." It is possible to be angry and not sin. In the world of Marvel comics and movies, whenever Bruce Banner gets angry, he transforms into the Incredible Hulk - smashing buildings, cars, and whatever gets in his way. However, becoming angry doesn’t give us a license to go crazy. It is possible to become angry and not sin. We see in the Bible that God the Father angry from time to time. The Gospels tell of Jesus getting angry. There is a right kind of anger and a wrong kind of anger. Spiritual maturity helps us understand the difference.
Nehemiah's anger was not a personal reaction. He wasn’t getting angry and striking back because somebody bruised his ego. That's the wrong kind of anger. He's not striking back in revenge. That's the wrong kind of anger. But what he has is justifiable indignation. He was angry at the selfishness of these rich people. He is deeply disturbed by their exploitation. Their selfishness and greed could call a halt to the entire project. Nehemiah was probably thinking "What good is a wall if the people inside the wall are exploiting one another?"
When we become angry, we should be angry at sin. Louis Cossell says, "We're exposed daily to so much human tragedy we've experienced what some have called compassion fatigue. Having felt sorry for so many flood victims, earthquake victims and war victims we simply cannot muster the sympathy we know we ought to have for fresh casualties. But even worse than compassion fatigue is indignation fatigue. Many of us seem to have lost the capacity to get mad, at least as mad as we ought to get, about lying, cheating and stealing. To be indifferent to wrongdoing, to shrug it off and laugh at it is a symptom of advanced degeneration of the moral sense. Someone seems to have administered a massive dose of novocain to our national conscious."
When we see something destroying the harmony of our families, our church, our nation, or our business, the first thing we should do is get upset. We should get upset when we see division within the family of God. We should get upset when we encounter immorality in the lives of Christians. We should become angry when we witness and learn about injustice. Our anger often shows that we are serious about what Satan is doing in our lives and in our world. That anger can lead us to prayer and actions that can finally change things for the better.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Make a list of 3-5 things that should make you angry. Next to each item, write a description of why it is wrong. Then, pray about each of the items on your list. If you’re leading your family through this activity, lead them through the same exercise and then pray as a family.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, help me not to become callous about the sin in the world. Instead, help me to become angry at the appropriate times, to bring those items to.You in prayer, then to take the appropriate actions. In the name of Jesus, Amen.