Think about the times you have felt angry—what were the usual causes? In all honesty, most of us would have to admit that our irritation is often for selfish reasons. The book of James tells us that “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). However, there is such a thing as righteous indignation, and it can be exercised to promote the work of God.
In today’s passage, we find an excellent example of this in Phinehas, who rose up to execute Zimri and Cozbi for their evil deeds. For this act, he was commended by God with the following words: “Phinehas … has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them” (Num. 25:11). God looked into the heart of Phinehas, saw his passion, and called it “My jealousy.” Of course, we cannot take the law into our own hands and begin executing people, but we can have the same attitude of heart that Phinehas had. This was a man who loved God so ardently that he couldn’t help but hate evil. He displayed the same wrath that drove Jesus to go through the temple with a whip of cords. (See John 2:13-17.) In both of these instances, zeal for God’s interests was demonstrated with anger.
How can we do this? It’s a matter of having God’s perspective and standing up for what is right. We can station ourselves at the door of our heart and put a spear through any unholy thought that tries to enter. Likewise, we can drive out the rivers of filth and immorality all around us, which try to enter our homes. As our love for God grows, so will our hatred of evil.