Righteous Wrath

A long-time former nurse told me a story this week about an incident in her early medical career. She was with a hospitalized patient who was not making progress and was in a serious, life-threatening condition. The doctor was more absent than in touch with the situation and did not seem to grasp the gravity of the situation as this nurse knew it certainly to be. She went to her supervisor and so on up the chain – each person being unwilling to challenge this notoriously arrogant doctor who ranked high in the hospital chain of command. Finally, at about 2:00 in the morning, the nurse risked everything and called the hospital chief physician at his home, describing the problem. The doctor was thereby ordered back to his patient, did the correct procedure, and then took the credit and adulation for saving the patient’s life.

Has something ever made you so angry that you could not contain your emotions about an injustice or wrongful event you saw transpiring? Finally, it all came erupting out of you?

Whenever we think of anger, we almost always associate it with a negative characteristic… “He’s such an angry guy.”  Wrath is listed as one of the attributes of God. How can that be?

There really is an anger directed at wrong that is not sinful or inappropriate – think of Jesus and the cleansing of the Temple, for example.  Yet it is not our role or authority to aggressively act out in vengeance against the wrongful things that may justly anger us – that is a role reserved for God… “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

God’s wrath is demanded by God’s justice. How could God, with omnipotent power, be truly just and righteous and not finally judge and eliminate wrongdoing and injustice?  Some folks, who struggle to believe, misunderstand that God’s grace-filled delay in instituting justice is because He either does not care or that He is unable to do anything about it. But to perfectly fix every wrong and make everything right at every turn is not what earth is about – perfection is what heaven is about. And God’s delayed judgment and display of wrath now is His grace that many may be saved from the curse of sin and death, and flee to Him for salvation.

John 3:36 – Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

We can be thankful for a God with an attribute of wrath. What justice or fairness would there be otherwise? It seems that many people want to see God as a doting old grandfather or a flippant and jovial judge who good-naturedly overlooks wrong. That would essentially celebrate lawlessness and be ultimately worthless and totally subjective.

But God’s anger at sin was such that His even greater grace is extended as the cure for those who will receive it. To not love and honor a God like this would sort of be like standing guilty before a judge who is offering you a free get-out-of-jail card if you’ll receive it from him (who paid the price for it), but rather refusing the gift and blaming the judge for allowing the situation to happen that eventuated in you standing before him. That’s kinda dumb, but it’s how much of the world thinks.

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This entry was posted in Him Alone and tagged by Randy Buchman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed 3-4 hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and am the editor of a Baltimore/Maryland sports blog called "The Baltimore Wire." My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with a Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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