If you wake up one morning and you realize you’re God, and then you go to church and find an ATM next to the altar in church, maybe you can start flipping pews.
The thing is, God has a right to have His House be a house of prayer, and the people who pray there have a right not to have their prayer space taken up with other things. Putting an ATM next to the altar is unjust, both to God and to humans. Therefore, it’s right for Jesus to be angry and to do something about it.
There is such a thing (in the Bible and in Christian teaching) as righteous anger, as opposed to wrath. However, righteous anger is about somebody doing injustice. You get angry so that you can defend yourself or others. Not getting righteously angry over injustice is unjust.
You can choose to forgive or say nothing or do nothing if that will actually help matters; but you usually need to do or say something about it, so that other people don’t suffer injustice too. You at least need to say to yourself, “This person did something unjust;” you can’t pretend to yourself that nothing bad happened, and it was perfectly normal.
For example, if a thief comes into your home and steals your stuff, you have a right to be angry. It’s your house, it’s your stuff, he’s violated your rights and done you an injustice.
If a guy kidnaps your kids and puts a knife to their throats, you have a right to be angry. He’s endangered your kids and traumatized them; he’s done them an injustice.
On the other hand, getting angry about a mistake, or stubbing your toe, is not righteous anger against an injustice. The mistake wasn’t made on purpose, and you didn’t stub your toe on purpose. No injustice was done; it just happened. You’re not defending yourself against anything, so being angry is foolish.
Wrath, unrighteous anger, is pretty much the result of foolishly demanding that the world and other people always turn out exactly the way you want. (That’s why they say that wrath comes from pride.) It’s “being mad at the world,” as they say, as if the world were out to get you.
This priest points out that wrath also says no to mercy, whereas righteous anger allows for mercy.
Ephesians 4 talks about righteous anger vs. unrighteous anger, in a way:
“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” (Eph. 4:26-27)
That’s righteous anger - you get angry at injustice, you do something to correct it if you can, but you don’t do anything evil because of it.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:31-32)
Wrath is accompanied with all sorts of bad stuff, like bitterness and slander.
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” (Prov. 15:18)
One who is slow to anger quiets things down, both before he is angry and when he finally is angered. I’ve seen this with my dad. He’s a good and gentle man, and it takes a lot to rile him up. If you do rile him up, he does something decisive to end the trouble. Very few people rile him up.
Of course, we sinners have a hard time keeping wrath out, even when we have a righteous cause to feel righteous anger. So it’s good to have self-control, and to stay away from situations that may make us feel angry for no good reason. But anger itself isn’t necessarily bad.
Hope this helped.