Everybody gets angry from time to time, because anger is a completely normal human emotion.
But when our anger gets out of our control, begins to rule our life, or turns destructive – it becomes a problem, and a sin. If ignored, it can cause difficulties in our marriages, relationships, at our workplaces and in our every day life.
Being angry in and of itself is not a sin. In fact, there are many instances in the Bible when anger is approved of, and even called “righteous indignation”. For example, Psalm 7:11 says “God is an honest judge. He is angry with the wicked every day.” God is righteously angry – not at the people – but at the actions of the people and the damaging effects they have on others.
Another example is Mark 3:5 which says “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.” Jesus was frustrated, discouraged, heartbroken and even angered that the people were more worried about what day of the week it was, than seeing a person healed of their disability. They only cared about rules, not hearts, and Jesus was righteously angered at this.
It seems that the underlying factor for righteous anger is when anger is in defense or support of a biblical principle and serves to better a situation or a person, not in defense or support or our own motives trying to push our own agendas.
There are many other examples in the Bible about righteous anger, from God and from people, but the majority of the time, the strong emotions of anger that we feel could not be labeled as righteous – no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves that they are.
As I mentioned in today’s Proverbs 31 devotion, I recently came face to face with the reality that my anger was causing me to live in sin and was stealing my joy. Only when I quit trying to convince myself that my anger was justified, was God able to work in my heart, repair relationships, and turn everything around for His good.
So when does anger become sin? How do we know if we are righteously angry, or sinfully angry?
Below are 7 ways to know when our anger is sinful:
1. When the reason for being angry is selfishly motivated.
James 1:20 “because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires”
2. When being angry is not glorifying God or defending His name.
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of
3. When anger goes on for so long, that it gives the devil a foothold in your heart.
Ephesians 4:26b-27 Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the
devil a foothold.
4. When anger is so volatile, that it begins to bring emotional or physical harm to others.
Psalm 37:8 Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to
5. When anger causes us to hold grudges against people with the intent of making them suffer.
Ephesians 4:31Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types
of evil behavior.
6. When anger makes us unwilling to forgive, and consumed with revenge.
Ephesians 4:32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God
through Christ has forgiven you.
7. When we hold on so tightly to our anger, that we begin to feel depressed and irritable, often
erupting over small insignificant things.
Hebrews 12:15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch
out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
According to a recent post by Gotquestions.org, there are two Greek words which are used in the New Testament for our English word “anger”. The first definition means “passion,energy”, and the second means “agitated, boiling”. This site also stated that “Biblically, anger is God-given energy intended to help us solve problems.” Being angry does require energy, but if this energy is boiling with anger and focused on attacking a person, instead of a situation, then destruction of various sorts is sure to occur.
In some cases, anger might be nothing more than feeling a little miffed about a situation. But in other cases, anger can turn deadly. Unfortunately, anger is the root cause of many violent situations, causing people to get so agitated that they kill someone in a fit of rage.
However, in most cases, anger kills relationships, damages self esteem, steals joy, shatters communications, inflicts emotional damage, and creates a barrier between us and God..
Are you holding onto anger about a situation or person? Have you considered the toll that anger, even if humanly justified, is taking on your heart, your relationships, and your life? Have you tried to convince yourself that you have a right to be angry, and therefore your anger is not sin?
If you answered yes to any of the questions, please know that you are not alone. Life is hard, but we don’t have to get hard with it – yet, prolonged anger, fueled by unforgiveness, makes our hearts hard.
If you would like for me to pray for you today with respect to anger you are struggling with, please leave a comment ON MY BLOG.
Anger is not a fun subject to talk about, but is a subject that Christians cannot ignore if we are serious about our relationship with Christ. The first step towards overcoming our anger is admitting that we are struggling with it. Through admission of our weakness, He can begin working powerfully in our heart, and in the circumstances or people that have hurt us.
Pray about these verses above for the next couple days, and on Wednesday, I will offer 5 suggestions on “how” to handle anger from God’s perspective.