When the Tables are Turned, is it Abuse… or Righteous Anger?

The table was shoved over in a fit of rage when I was around eight. There’d been a bit of squabbling at the table, as happens between eight-year-old and four-year-old kids, but nothing out of the ordinary. It came as a complete shock. It was apparently the last straw; the one that broke the camel’s back. The flimsy card table in our tiny Italian kitchen was suddenly flipped over. There was a scream, and tomato rice soup was flying everywhere. What just happened? Our entire lunch was on the floor; the table upended on its side. And suddenly it was silent.

As I surveyed the red creamy soup splattered all over the walls and in puddles on the floor, we began to cry. My little sister started yelling, “My tooth! My tooth!” In a flurry of activity, we ran to kneel on the floor beside her and look into her mouth. Fear. Had the table smacked her in the face on its way down? Then, suddenly relief, as the discovery came… “It’s a piece of rice! It’s just a piece of rice!” 

I guess it was the relief, because it surely wasn’t joy, that brought the nervous laughter. Suddenly we got the impression it was not so bad after all. In fact, it was all quite funny. But it was actually only funny, because we were trained to believe it was so. The brainwashing had set in long before. I knew what to do. I was supposed to laugh along; make light of the situation. That way no one would get mad… and I wouldn’t get into trouble. And then we could all put a smile on our face and pretend it had never happened. 

What was that after all? Was it abuse, or was it righteous anger?

Well, let’s compare it to another scenario from a time long before. Instead of little kids bickering at the kitchen table, there were money changers in the courts of God’s Holy Temple. And they weren’t innocently sitting at tables eating their lunch. No. They were sitting at tables exchanging foreign money. And instead of having a little argument to top it off, merchants were also selling sheep, cattle, and doves to be sacrificed. Instead of children facing an angry woman, the merchants and money changers came face to face with an angry man… an angry man who just happened to be the Son of God! 

Jesus didn’t shove a flimsy table of food to the ground; he shoved multiple tables, scattering tons of coins: here, there, and everywhere! If that wasn’t frightening enough, he created a whip out of cords, and sent the animals running hither and dither from the temple’s courtyard! Merchants and money changers were in his Father’s House, and Jesus was mad as a hornet! Did you know that Jesus yelled too?! “To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market’ ” (John 2:16 New International Version)!

What was that after all? Was it abuse? Or was it righteous anger?

Well, if you had to choose which situation to witness, which one would you pick? I know which one I would choose. For the silver lining is in knowing that my Savior is good, and perfect, and pure. Though the scene with Jesus was extra dramatic, I would have surveyed the whole scene with peace, instead of anxiety. I would have sat on the sidelines knowing that his corded whip was not for me, nor the righteous anger, nor the disciplinary action. I also wouldn’t have been forced to fake laugh, and pretend I was okay. This is because my confidence is in Christ. My Savior knows what he is doing, has a purpose for it all the time, and it is always good.

I can see myself as a small, skinny eight-year-old girl, about the age of my daughter, sitting on a wall in the courtyard. I’m watching Jesus; glad that he is clearing the temple of the bad guys. I’m sitting in my ratty brown robe, barefoot, swinging my legs against the stone wall, waiting for him to finish his work. I can hardly wait for him to toss down the whip and head over to me. Everyone is gone; the merchants, the buyers, the money changers, and the animals. It’s just me left.  As he comes towards me, I bow my head, but it’s not out of fear. 

It’s out of reverence. It’s because I know he’s getting ready to pull me into his comforting, warm embrace of unconditional love. My head is down because I know his hand is going to touch the top of my curly auburn head, and he’s going to say, “I love you, my child. There’s nothing to fear.” But I’m not afraid anyway. And when I look up into his beautiful, dark face, and smile into his kind, brown eyes;  I nod my head. I can’t talk, because I’m overjoyed. But he understand me. He can read my mind. He knows I’ve remembered. He knows that I, just like “His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me” (John 2:17).

Prayer: 

Dear God, turn the tables in my life. Where I am weak, make me strong. Cleanse my mind of the lies I was taught as a child. Fill me with The Holy Spirit, and open my eyes to the truth. Instead of bitter anger, help me to continue to forgive those who have sinned against me, just as you have forgiven those who have sinned against you. Remove the deceit from those who have become blind to the truth. Bring instead, wisdom and discernment, to those who seek Your Face. 

Years later, I’m on fire for You, Lord. My speech, and my body have experienced the shaking strength of righteous anger, and in it I did not sin; just as you my Savior, did not sin in the temple courtyard. I am zealous for you, Jesus. I’m zealous for others to make their home with you in Heaven. It consumes me, and I don’t care if the world hates me for it. Even if I’m the only one left sitting in your courtyard, I will wait for you to come get me. I want to live in your house forever. I want my home to be wherever you may be. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for your eternal love. 

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11).

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12 thoughts on “When the Tables are Turned, is it Abuse… or Righteous Anger?”

    1. Wow, Tammy! Thank you for such a generous comment! I really appreciate that you enjoyed the creativity I try to bring to my writing, and I’m so thankful for your thoughtful prayer for my writing! What a beautiful gift you’ve given to me today! May God bless you in Jesus name! ๐Ÿ’™

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  1. Great post! I think often when people say they have righteous anger it very rarely is, and is actually a kind of spiritual abuse. It’s twisting the bible to meet there own needs!

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    1. Alice, I agree! That would have been a good point to have in my post. Many people feel “righteously angry,” and believe it validates their bad behavior and treatment of others. You are correct that righteous anger is rare. I’ve experienced it just a few times, and it shook me to the core. But in it, I did not sin. I remember asking my pastor why I was shaking when I had been wronged, if I didn’t have any fear. He said two words, “righteous anger.” And everything suddenly made sense. I had not sinned in my anger, and I also felt the presence of God standing with me. I felt Jesus at my shoulder, lending me his strength and courage! This must be how Jesus felt, himself, when he sent the merchants from the temple! And even when we do feel justified in our anger, it is wrong to cast insults, gossip, and physically harm others. That is sinning, so we aren’t being righteous. I also agreed wholeheartedly that people are participating in spiritual abuse when they sin against others and lean on the excuse that their anger is “justified.” This is what cults do to gain power over their followers. It is also what narcissists and other abusive people do, to cause confusion among Christians in the church and home. Thank you for contributing such a valid and important point. I’d love to see you write a blog post on this topic! ๐Ÿ’™

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      1. Thanks Angela, I think I will write something about this topic at some point, but at the moment my own experiences are still very fresh. I do find it helpful to know other people have been through similar situations, and hope to one day encourage others as well.

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  2. i’d say 99.9% of anger in the world today has nothing to do with righteousness, but is all about self and who has offended “me”. Its very sad to see how we have drifted so far from the admonition of Phil 2:3 to consider others better than ourselves. Thank goodness that we still have the perfect picture of Christ written in the Gospels for us to see. May we live in His forgiveness and let His mercy and grace flow through us to reach others. Thanks for your post!

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    1. Karen, I’m so glad we have that example in the Bible too! It speaks volumes about righteous anger! Jesus hated what the merchants were doing in His Father’s House, but he never sinned in getting everyone out of there! This means he did what he needed to do, but he did it without sinning. He had one goal in mind; to stop people from disgracing The Temple by selling and trading in it. He didn’t kill people or hire people to hurt people who were there. The whips were loud and were used to chase out the animals and put a stop to the madness. We can be righteously angry about a situation, but we must do it without hate, without letting our flesh get in the way, and without sinning. And the goal should always and only be to do God’s Will, just as Jesus did! And we must forgive those who do cause us to feel angry, and do it in the name of Jesus. I agree with you in prayer; let others see our mercy and grace as we deal with these situations! Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts. God bless you, in Jesus’ name! ๐Ÿ’™

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  3. As I meditate on your message I realize that one of the key elements needed for revival in our churches is “righteous anger.” In one of my devotions (The Dangers of an Ear Candy Gospel), I state that we have profaned our Houses of Worship by converting them into spiritual coffee parlors and $ocially accepting centers. All in the name of love and unity. But the same can be said of our spiritual lives. Complacency and the lack of spiritual discipline have caused us, as temples of the Holy Spirit, to be in spiritual disarray. We would first have to “turn some tables” and clean house before we can pursue and expect a true spiritual revival. Thank you, Angela, for this excellent post!

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    1. Thank you, Joe for stopping by! I completely agree with you, and was also thinking of how today’s churches are often used as marketing grounds, where people look to gather customers for their businesses. I feel it is a real problem in the church, and that separate business should be done outside of the church; not within. I’ve also found that if one doesn’t want to participate in whatever popular trend is going around, which requires one to pay money to someone (whether a grown adult or child) one can end up being looked upon as being cold or unsupportive, or judgmental… meaning as you said, no longer socially accepted by others at church. Often, the businesses and charities being represented even give a portion of their proceeds to UNChristian and UNgodly causes. I have had “friends” stop talking to me, just because I don’t feel church is an appropriate place to ask for money to support other charitable causes or to push personal businesses. I started a blog post about this a while back,and you’ve inspired me to complete it. Now I simply tell people that our family doesn’t give any money to any cause while we are at church. I feel this gives them the opportunity to approach us at a different time if they choose, and it gives us time to look into what we would really be supporting, and whether or not we are only being approached as a financial means. The church is God’s House. It’s a place to give gifts to God and support His ministries! Yes, some tables need to be turned for true revival! It’s refreshing to see a brother in Christ who understands where I’m coming from in wanting to honor God and the church! Thank you for visiting. I’m looking forward to reading your post: Dangers of an Ear Candy Gospel.
      ๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿผ๐Ÿญ

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      1. Well said, sister! I couldn’t agree with you more. 2,000 years later and we are still using God’s House for personal (worldly) gain. We are pushing the government to start taxing us, and rightfully so. I too look forward to reading your post on the subject. ๐Ÿ’ฒโ›ช

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