Does God’s Wrath Produce Righteousness? (James 1:19)


Question: I have been studying the word wrath. I am beginning to wonder if it is meaning something different then we read it in the English definition. James 1:19 says that “the wrath of man does not produce righteousness,” so should we conclude that the wrath of God does? In some instances could we read God’s wrath as His passionate molding?

Response: I think you are on the right path. God is Love, so his wrath must be the wrath of Love. So could it be violent? Well, do you have kids? I don’t know if I’ve ever had more love toward anyone than my kids. I don’t know if I’ve ever been angrier with anyone than I have been with my kids. Was that because I stopped loving them? NO, but precisely because I did love them. Would I do them violence? Well if by violence you mean something irreversible like murder, of course not. But if by violence, you mean “violating their will,” of course I would. That’s called discipline, and it might even involve physical pain, like a swat on the bottom or not getting dessert. Wrath meant to produce righteousness is discipline.

Murder would not be discipline, because I can’t bring them back to life. However, God is Life. He can kill and make new. Technically, I don’t think God can murder, for murdering is taking a life that doesn’t belong to you and Jesus is “the Life” and all life belongs to God. All of humanity is undergoing the discipline of death, so that God might make all things new. The wrath of God is the wrath of Love. To state anything else is to disregard the clear statement of Scripture. God is disciplining humanity, and in Jesus he suffers the discipline with us and learns his own lesson within us. Jesus is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.”

Also, God does not have unintentional wrath; it’s all purposeful. Would any of his purposes be anything other than righteousness? I believe that “he consigned all to disobedience that he may have mercy on all” (Romans 11:32), so that all might choose the Good (which is Him) in freedom. Discipline is part of making people in his own image and likeness. I’ve never met a parent that didn’t employ “wrath” in raising their children. Of course, if you define “wrath” as fits of anger without purpose, then God has no “wrath.” But as you so wonderfully pointed out, James 1:19 clearly indicates that God’s wrath has a wonderful purpose.

All Questions