Thursday, February 09, 2006

Righteous Indignation

So what is righteous indignation, you ask? Well, let me explain it from the dictionary:

Indignation - Anger aroused by something unjust, mean, or unworthy.
Righteous - Morally upright; without guilt or sin.

So the question I have for the blog world today is can we as humans respond to something with righteous indignation? The definition given above for righteous would lead me to say no... I am not without guilt or sin. However, in God's eyes (because of Christ), I am righteous.

But what of the indignation part? Who decides what is unjust, mean, or unworthy?

I bring this up because in reading 1 Samuel 11, I stumbled on a passage that intrigued me greatly. In this chapter, Nahash the Ammonite threatens to gouge out the eyes of a group of Israelites - Jabesh-gilead to be exact.

(stay with me, now... the point will get here before you know it.)

So Nahash makes this threat... and the people of Jabesh beg for an opportunity to find someone to save them. This news reaches Saul (the man recently annointed king over Israel). And here is the verse that caused me to stop and ponder:

"And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled." - 1 Sm 11:6

Now the chapter continues and Saul does some odd things in cutting up some oxen and sending the parts throughout Israel... and the people gather to help Jabesh fight against Nahash the Ammonite. (see also Judges 19)

(still with me? here comes the point...)

It was the Spirit of God that rushed upon Saul to make him angry at what was happening to Jabesh-gilead.

So my thought was why do I not have such anger come over me when I hear of things like you will see discussed in the following links (caution - the subject matter contained in these links is extremely sad and upsetting):

Invisible Children

Why do I not have the righteous indignation to do something about cases such as those discussed above? Not sure there is an answer to that question that will be given in a blog... just wanted to give some food for thought.

Thoughts are always welcome...


dovie said...

So many thoughts...but I'll try to keep this short.

First, I do think it's possible for us to experience righteous indignation, much like Saul in the passage you quoted. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in's possible.

Second, there's no way we could manage indignation over everything that could conceivably call for it...well, not an indignation that moves us to physical action (whether that be supporting an organization like the two you provided links to or actually physically joining the fight against the offense in question), because every one of us has a limited amount of funds from which we can make donations, and a limited amount of time which we can give. However, we can always pray...which I think we all to often don't really conisder to really be 'action' at all (am I am often the most guilty of this).

Even if we DO consider prayer to be action...I think we'll agree that we don't even do THAT as often as we ought to when presented with such horrible things that exist in the world. Why we do this is a whole other discussion.

Finally...why don't you have such anger when you hear about the various horrors in the world? Because although we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are still stuck in these human bodies...with all their trappings...and we still have our own we don't give it the time of day sometimes. And that's horrible...I hate when I realize I've done has brought me to tears. HOWEVER, thank God that He holds all things together by His word...and that His Spirit touches each of us deeply about different things. So some of us will be moved to action in righteous indignation over A, B, and C horrors...and some of us over X, Y, and Z.

Sorry...that wasn't nearly as short as I was hoping.

Chris said...


"Wow" pretty much sums it up. Each of these topics easily go on my top 10 list of horrible things going on right before our very eyes today.

I am not sure that I can express my thoughts about these repulsive actions into words. Prayer is the least that we should be doing.

Regarding the "lighter topic" of righteous indignation, I think Dovie said it best and it is worth repeating..."His Spirit touches each of us deeply about different things...some of us will be moved over A, B, and C horrors...and some of us over X, Y, and Z.

Thanks for the sobering reality's easy to snub topics like these.

Ryan said...

Great challenge Todd. I think we miss praying for these things because we haven't asked the Lord to give us eyes to see. I'm so guilty of spiritual tunnel vision--worrying about every detail of my spiritual, financial, physical situation that it's impossible to see the suffering of others.

This kind of atrocity is the end result of nations who have a malice toward God and have lost any connection to justice.

I'm reminded of the verse where Jesus states (paraphrase)"whatever you do unto the least of these, so you do unto me".

For those of us who join the fight against these kinds of horrors, we are actually doing a kind turn unto Jesus himself and for those who are committing the offenses--they are doing injury unto Jesus Himself, and I wouldn't want to be them.

Carrie White Owen said...

Todd--have you checked out Jessica's blog lately? GREAT pic of you on there! HA!!!