Righteous Anger

Based on the LGG Study, From Broken to Restored / w2d5

Scripture: Nehemiah 5:6-13 / SOAP: Isaiah 1:17

Learn to do what is right.
Promote justice*.
Give the oppressed reason to celebrate.
Take up the cause of the orphan.
Defend the rights of the widow.

Isaiah 1:17

Isaiah’s words are a perfect example of Nehemiah’s actions on behalf of the ‘oppressed’ people. So let’s take a look at Nehemiah 5:6-13 before jumping into the SOAP passage.

 I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints. I considered these things carefully and then registered a complaint with the wealthy and the officials. I said to them, “Each one of you is seizing the collateral from your own countrymen!” Because of them I called for a great public assembly. I said to them, “To the extent possible we have bought back our fellow Jews who had been sold to the Gentiles. But now you yourselves want to sell your own countrymen, so that we can then buy them back!” They were utterly silent, and could find nothing to say.

Then I said, “The thing that you are doing is wrong! Should you not conduct yourselves in the fear of our God in order to avoid the reproach of the Gentiles who are our enemies? 10 Even I and my relatives and my associates are lending them money and grain. But let us abandon this practice of seizing collateral! 11 This very day return to them their fields, their vineyards, their olive trees, and their houses, along with the interest that you are exacting from them on the money, the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil.”

12 They replied, “We will return these things, and we will no longer demand anything from them. We will do just as you say.” Then I called the priests and made the wealthy and the officials swear to do what had been promised. 13 I also shook out my garment, and I said, “In this way may God shake out from his house and his property every person who does not carry out this matter. In this way may he be shaken out and emptied!” All the assembly replied, “So be it!” and they praised the Lord. Then the people did as they had promised.

Nehemiah 5:6-13
  • *the underlined portions above are to emphasize the “slow” and calculated steps of how Nehemiah handled his anger well – and undoubtedly pleasing to God –

Nehemiah’s anger was a righteous anger, meaning he was angry at a situation and actions that were not pleasing to God. You see, rather than shutting down the complaints of the people, Nehemiah listened to their “outcry”. Then he followed through by addressing those responsible for the hardship that had been brought about the people’s protest.

Nehemiah wasn’t just angry,
he was angry at a situation and actions
that were not pleasing to God

Make no mistake, when we align our will with God’s, when we address situations and actions that are not pleasing to God, the result is good and God-honoring things Pay attention to how Nehemiah dealt with his “righteous anger” and then the result:

  • He pointed out the wrong they were doing – vs 7-8
  • He used God’s standard and not his own opinion as the guide – vs 9
  • He suggested a better/right way – vs 10-11
  • The Result: ‘wrong doers’ complied, turning from their wrong behavior to the godly way – vs 12

Admittedly, we do not have the same power and authority as Nehemiah did which means we may not experience the same result when we stand up for justice. However, we can do what is right, we can promote justice, and we can give the oppressed reason to celebrate – and we can trust God to use our behavior to make a difference in the lives of others – for His glory. (italicized portions borrowed from LGG Devotional, From Broken to Restored / w2d5)

Nehemiah instructed the people to do right, he promoted justice, and he gave the oppressed reason to celebrate by taking up the cause of those who had no rights or those who could not defend themselves. Now, read Isaiah’s words again and note the striking correlation to Nehemiah’s instructions.

Learn to do what is right.
Promote justice.*
Give the oppressed reason to celebrate.
Take up the cause of the orphan.
Defend the rights of the widow.

Isaiah 1:17

*To promote or stand up for justice means to encourage or stand up for what is morally right or acceptable according to God’s Word.

Examining Ourselves

How do you respond when you see injustice? How do Nehemiah’s actions encourage you to speak out against injustice?

Note: to speak out against injustice would be to speak out against others being treated unfairly – based on what is morally right or acceptable according to God’s Word.

Going Further
  • For more insight read today’s LGG Blog
  • I love when I see God’s Word corresponding or reminding me of other portions of His Word – so check out James 1:27 for a New Testament cross reference of today’s passage from Isaiah.
    • Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27
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