God-Centered Anger vs. Self-Centered Anger

Tullian Tchividjian on “God-centered” anger versus “self-centered” anger (which is something I’ve been thinking about in light of recent conversations):

Our world needs more God-centered anger. Sin and evil and immorality — all these things should arouse our anger. In fact, the world needs to see our anger at evils like organized racial violence, torture, genocide, child abuse, drug and sex trafficking, low educational standards, corporate greed, adultery, pornography, and so on. Sadly, the church is guilty of ignoring these evils, of not expressing God-centered anger at the way God’s image bearers — human beings — are being de-humanized, mistreated, and denigrated by one another. When the church ignores these things we inadvertently communicate to the watching world that God has no social conscience; that he doesn’t care about injustice. But the fact is that God is a God of justification and justice. He not only cares about the salvation of individuals but, according to Isaiah 1:17, he cares deeply about his people being ready and willing to “seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, and plead for the widow.” God is angry when justice is not sought, when the oppressed is not rescued, when the orphan is not defended, and when the widow is not pleaded for. So when we see how sin causes human beings to treat each other in undignified, unjust ways, we should be incensed, not indifferent! Because God is angry at sin’s devastation, God’s people should be too.


God’s anger is a grieving anger. It grieves because it sees the devastation sin has on human life. Jesus was angry because God’s ways were being maligned and God was being dishonored by these legalistic Pharisees. But his anger was fueled by grief — because in the lives of these hardened Pharisees he was able to see sin’s deadening effects. It was as if he was saying, “Why do you continue like this? Don’t you know, don’t you see, that you were created and designed for so much more than this?” It grieved him to see that, because of their sin, these Pharisees were shadows of what God originally intended for them to be — they were made to live for so much more.


I point this out for this reason: Our anger should be a grieving anger as well. When we see immorality and injustice, our anger should be stoked because of the devastating effects these things have on human life and community.

Godly, grieving anger is far different from the kind of perceived anger commonly associated with Christians. Lots of people think of Christians as embittered, angry people, especially in relation to highly charged social issues such as abortion and homosexuality. They view Christians as being frustrated because things just aren’t going our way — our conservative political agenda is being thwarted.

And be sure to read the John Piper anecdote. Via