On Sunday I made the statement that any time you become angry you are being judgmental. I owe credit to David Powlison for this insight. The point I was making was that God is the ultimate Judge and that is a good thing. We all want things to be set right and all wrong to be accounted for. Folks will often decry anything they perceive to be judgmental while ignoring that they themselves are judgmental. This is where Powlison’s comments are helpful. He wrote:
At its core anger is very simple. It expresses “I’m against that.” (Good and Angry, pg. 39)
This is exactly what God’s judgment and wrath are…they are the manifestations of Him being “against” sin. The reason it is helpful to understand this is because people often have a hard time understanding (accepting) that God is Judge. Yet, if you can point them to the fact that they are judgmental anytime they get angry and show them they aren’t as free of judgment as they think they are, you can begin to open the door to helping them understand God’s judgment as needed and necessary. Powlison continued:
Human beings come wired with the capacity to react with displeasure toward real wrongs and act forcefully to make wrongs right. In other words, we are moral beings. We are made in the image of God. (pg. 39, emphasis mine)
Now, I’m not saying that all of our anger is righteous anger. Due to sin, it certainly is not. Our anger is often out of proportion, capricious, self-righteous, directed toward the wrong things, and that’s only the beginning of how our anger goes wrong. (If you want to think more about how our anger can go right, then read Powlison’s book.) Yet, God’s anger is none of these things. His anger is always righteous, setting right the wrongs and bringing restoration through redemption. Therefore, God’s judgment is a good thing because it speaks to every human’s longing for justice. However, it can only be a good thing if they stand before God’s judgment in Christ.
I would encourage you to use this longing for justice, which is displayed in every person’s anger, to point them toward the ultimate Judge. Then tell them about the one who satisfied God’s judgment on their behalf through the cross and resurrection. Point them to Jesus, the Rock of Ages that has been cleft for them.