It is a good thing to defend faith and take a stand for what is right. Scripture encourages us to be discerning and to warn others when there is false teaching within the church. And it is appropriate to call sin what it is and to expose injustice. Sometimes a battle is called for. But we don't have to do it angry.
Too often Christians get a reputation for being angry, self-righteous people who will defend the faith no matter who they offend along the way. Sadly, we sometimes earn it. We believe we are called to righteous anger and fighting battles for the Lord in order for the world to take our faith as seriously as we do. Maybe that's why there are so many unhappy Christians walking around. We can't be at peace that God is in control if we are in a perpetual state of being angry and offended.
More importantly, God never asks us to be angry in defending the gospel or in any other circumstance. In fact, nearly every scripture about anger speaks of it as a negative thing to be avoided. Even the scripture we most use to justify righteous anger doesn't say what we think it does (Ephesians 4:26 - "Be angry yet do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger."). It is not telling us to be angry, it is telling us that when we do get angry (and we will because we are human!), don't let it cause us to sin and don't hang on to it. Let it go.
I can easily be one of those angry Christians and feel justified in it. On the one hand I came by it honestly as I grew up in a church with a few pulpit-pounding pastors preaching hell-fire and brimstone against a long list of transgressions that included not only the obvious murderers and adulterers, but even worse transgressors: those boys with long hair and girls in short skirts who also listened to devil music (rock and roll or anything with a drum beat). It wasn't until I was an adult that I started to grasp the concepts of grace and mercy and God's unconditional love.
On the other hand, it is part of my personality to have a heart for justice and wanting others to behave and do what is right. That in and of itself is not a bad thing. There are many examples in scripture of people God used to deliver that kind of message. But the difference is whether God compels someone to speak against sin, false teaching, or injustice, or whether we take it on ourselves as a self-appointed role. I'm sometimes guilty of the latter and if I'm not mindful of my thoughts and words and how scripture really tells me to respond to such things, I can become more critical than compassionate, more judgmental than merciful, and can appoint myself as Holy Spirit Junior to make people behave as if God needed an assistant.
It's too big of a job for any human to bear. What a relief to know I don't have to. I don't have to right the wrongs of others; I'm only accountable for my own before the Lord and that particular list is long enough to keep me busy without ever having to meddle in someone else's. Yes, I can take a stand against things the Bible says are wrong, but I don't have to be angry doing it. Why? Because that kind of anger tends to come from not being in control and the offense comes from not getting the results I want more than the issue itself.
The truth is, God has this - whatever "this" is on any given day. He is in control, He has a plan, He will make sure things are made right in His own perfect time and way. And the Holy Spirit has this. His job is to work in our human hearts to convict, restore, teach, and illuminate truth to believers and to convict unbelievers of sin and their need for a Savior. I may be used to introduce others to the gospel of Jesus Christ or to teach the truth of scripture, but only the Lord can change the heart.
I can still be deeply concerned and respectfully point someone to biblical truth. I don't have to become offended or
angry over it, especially if the outcome isn't what I wanted, because none of it is personal. It isn't about me. It is the Lord's person or circumstance to deal with and He will, with perfect justice, grace, and mercy that I will never be capable of.
So what does the Lord ask of me? Scripture gives me direction in Micah 6:8: "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Justice, mercy and humbleness do not contradict each other and there is room for all three to shine through when I let go of offense and anger.
I only have to be obedient in studying scripture while relying on the
Holy Spirit to reveal truth and give me words to say that communicate it
well and in a way that glorifies God as I'm told in 1 Peter 3:15: "But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always
being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason
for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." And in 2 Timothy 3:16: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness."
This is what the Lord has been working in my heart these past several months. I believe He has called me to use my writing to warn about some of the false teaching and teachers that have crept into the church, and to speak up about issues the law of our land or society's political correctness say are ok but that God calls sin. But I don't have to make it personal and become offended or angry. The battle is His and more importantly, so is the outcome.
Does anything else replace God in your heart?
“Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.” Proverbs 7:25-27 NIV
The “her” spoken of in Proverbs 7 is a worldly adulteress actively seeking to lead her victims astray. For Christians, adultery against the Lord is anything our hearts becomes entangled with, anything that replaces our desire for him.
The Bible is full of examples of those who were brought down by things they desired more than God. It began with Adam and Eve, who chose to listen to the enticing lies of Satan instead of what God promised. Esau gave up his inheritance for a bowl of stew. The children of Israel repeatedly rebelled and chose other gods over Yahweh. In so doing, they broke their promise to be faithful only to him. Sometimes the sin was literal adultery, as with David and Bathsheba. In each case the result was the same: separation from God with dire consequences.
The Bible often refers to the relationship between the body of Christ and the Lord in terms of a marriage. The vows of marriage represent a covenant – a promise to be exclusively faithful to each other. When we trade our affection for Jesus for what the world has to offer, we break that promise. Yet, amazingly, he remains faithful to us no matter how much we break his heart. 2 Timothy 2:13 says even when we are faithless, he remains faithful because he cannot deny himself.
Scripture tells us God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14, Deuteronomy 4:23-24) but this isn’t the kind of negative jealousy we think of, that controls or seeks revenge. The word also means “zealous”. His love for us is one of zealous vigilance that will pursue us and do whatever is necessary to protect our covenant relationship with him. He demonstrated the depth of his love by dying on the cross for us and securing the promise of eternal life.
Our heavenly Father says in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Take time today to express your love to the Lord and thank him for his zealous faithfulness.