These days it’s so easy to be morally outraged. Everywhere we turn there is potential for outrage. Miley Cyrus on the VMA’s. Government policies on abortion. The sexual looseness of our culture. The widespread acceptance of every possible sexual lifestyle. The possibility for outrage is everywhere.
And there is a place for legitimate, godly outrage. But so often we treat moral outrage as if it is a virtuous thing in and of itself. But it’s not. In spite of what all the talk radio shows and Fox News hosts and bloggers say, moral outrage is not an inherently good thing.
Remember, the Pharisees were consistently morally outraged at Jesus. And Westboro Baptist pretty much owns the market on moral outrage these days.
Moral outrage without a heart of mercy is a slap in the face to God’s mercy. “Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ (Matthew 18:32-33)
Moral outrage without broken-hearted prayer reveals a heart that doesn’t care about people’s salvation. “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance andpatience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)
Moral outrage without a humble awareness of our own sinfulness breeds hypocrisy. “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
Moral outrage without an accompanying trust in God’s sovereign rule over all things fosters fear. “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them [kings and rulers] in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury…(Psalm 2:4-5)
Moral outrage without wise speech leads to slander, gossip, and unwholesome talk. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Don’t settle for only moral outrage. There is nothing inherently good or righteous about moral outrage. Let’s ask God for a heart that is both outraged and merciful, angry and trusting, incensed and humble. Let’s ask God for his heart.
+ original photo by how will i ever