✝︎ The Truth about Anger

women overcoming anger

by Kim Johnson

Anger

Definition:  A strong emotion or reaction that is directed toward some real or supposed grievance; initiated by some actual or believed wrong.  It can be quick, slow, righteous or misplaced and can focus on someone (family, friends, or colleagues), situations, circumstances, ourselves or even God.  

Questions: Is anger a sin?  Can I be mad at God?  How can I deal with these feelings and not feel guilty?   

Anger is not Always a Sin

  • Depending upon the translation God is referred to over 350 times in the Bible as being angry.
  • Psalms 7:11 even says that “God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.”
  • The Greek word in the New Testament for our English word “anger” means a God-given energy or passion intended to help us solve problems. There are several examples in the Bible of anger like this.
  • John 2:18-18 – Jesus’ anger over how the Jews had defiled God’s Temple in Jerusalem;
  • 2 Samuel 12 – David’s anger over hearing Nathan the prophet sharing an injustice;
  • Exodus 11:8 – Moses’ anger at Pharaoh when he would not let the Jews go;
  • 1 Samuel 20:34 – Jonathan’s anger at his father’s treatment of his friend, David;
  • Galatians 2:11-14 – Paul’s confrontation of Peter for his wrong example.
  • Psalm 4:4 and Ephesians 4:26 indicates that we can be angry – as long as we don’t sin – giving a distinction between the two.  
  • Anger is often called “righteous indignation” indicating that anger in itself as an emotion is not always a sin.  
  • God’s Word determines the criteria for anger based upon its circumstance and its consequence.  

Anger Can Become a Sin

  • If it is selfishly motivated. James 1:20:” For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” In this verse the word for anger can mean vengeance or anger in punishment and indicates an anger that is self-seeking.
  • If it perverts God’s goal that we glorify Him.  “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Allowing our anger to rage out of control causing emotional or physical hurt is never glorifying to God.
  • If it is allowed to fester.  Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry; and do not give the devil a foothold.”  Harboring anger hurts us by causing depression and making us irritable. 
  •  “For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.” (Proverbs 30:33)  

Anger at God 

  • Occurs when expectations and responsibilities that we set upon God are not fulfilled.  It can create a greater understanding and intimacy with God, or cause further separation between God and us. The choice is often ours.
  • Don’t try to hide your anger -God already knows that we are angry (Psalms 94:11)“The Lord knows the thoughts of man. . .”  
  • Be honest with your feelings.  David was honest in his anger and distress.  Psalm 22:1 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” 
  • Take time with God.  It is safe to tell God everything.  Job 22:27, “You will pray to him, and he will hear you . . . .”
  • Handle your anger at God appropriately.  David poured out his anguish without blaming God or overstepping the boundary.  Jonah (Jonah 4), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:18) and Job (Job 38:1-3) did not and God rebuked them.  
  • The result of taking your anger to God will ultimately bring you to a deeper relationship with Him.  Anger handled appropriately is an opportunity to develop insight while suppressing, denying or ignoring it can cause a relationship to deteriorate and even disappear.   It is then easy to understand why David’s complaints almost always ended in praise.  “I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  (Psalm 42:9-11)

Anger Management

  • James 1:19, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” There are several ways to be “quick to listen,” “slow to speak,” and “slow to become angry.”
    • Do not try to argue (don’t react) –  take physical and/or emotional timeouts 
    • Meditate on calming scripture/relax –  do deep-breathing exercises/listen to calming music
    • Work on forgiveness (releasing the offense) –  change what you can about the situation and accept what you cannot
  • Handle anger with others biblically:
    • By not returning evil for evil (Romans 12:17)
    • By attacking the problem not the person (Ephesians 4:29)
    • By honest communication (Ephesians 4:15)
    • By keeping short accounts (Ephesians 4:26-27)
    • By recognizing what we need to own about the situation (Proverbs 28:13)

Coping with Anger

We are living in a broken world with broken lives.  We experience broken hearts and often broken dreams.  And becoming or being a Christian does not give us immunity from this pain.  Even living by biblical principles or counseling with wise friends, we may not always find an answer to the difficulties we experience.  So, we will get angry with others and sometimes even God – and that is okay.  Coping with anger honestly and appropriately is a pathway to better personal relationships, as well as greater trust and a deeper relationship with God. 

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