Some would define anger as a God-given emotion. Others would describe it as terrifying, fiery, a double-edged sword, or a bottomless abyss. The definition this emotion has tied to its name seems to morph itself, changing its shape depending on the person defining it. What does the Bible say regarding this fiery slippery emotion and what does God direct in its wake? This article will focus on God’s precepts for anger and how mankind’s definition has severely damaged the view on righteous anger.
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When God created humans in His image, He created them with emotions. One of the many emotions God gave humans was anger. God is often depicted in His issuing out His wrath. However, unlike humans, God remains pure in His wrath. His anger is righteous anger. Our anger is marred with sin. If our anger is marred, why does God command us when we are angry to be be angry without sin? What does this mean? An evaluation of anger’s definition is needed.
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, anger is “a strong feeling of displeasure.” The Bible defines anger along these same lines. But here’s the catch: it usually leads to revenge or punishment according to human merits. God’s anger is pure because He is not human and His attributes are perfectly balanced.
“God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day” (Psalm 7:11, NIV).
“. . . And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. . .” (Exodus 34:6, NIV).
“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever. . .” (Psalm 103:8-9, NIV).
As humans, we like to state that God is love and forget His anger. Likewise, we also like to teach that God has no mercy. Righteous anger punishes sin yet has mercy on the sinner. This plays a huge reason into why Jesus was crucified and rose again. The Bible states that the wrath of God was fulfilled upon the cross. Yet, Jesus’ death and resurrection provided mercy as an atonement for those that choose to believe from eternal wrath and separation from God. A holy, just God must hate what is evil in order to love what is good.
Anger is distorted and becomes sin when it has the motive of revenge aside from righteous judgment. In revenge, we take the place of God and carry out our own law. This is why God’s definition of murder and self-defense are different.
- Cain and Abel
- David’s anger against Nabal
- Moses’ anger against the Israelites
- Jezebel and Ahab’s anger against God’s people
- Martha’s anger against her sister Mary
All these examples are just scratching the surface on anger that led to sin. The motive for the anger was based off of selfish gain. There is a never a time in human history where anger was carried out effectively all the time. We aren’t God. Our motives will never be pure apart from God.
A Fiery Slippery Slope
I like to call anger a fiery slippery slope because once anger onsets, it ignites like a fire and becomes a steep slippery slope to come off of. It gives way to a gnarled, ravished tongue and leaves destruction in its wake. This particular sin is one that has become my own and one that has become my thorn. As sin is inherited, so is its consequences.
Growing up, I was never properly taught how to control anger. I had the basic rights and wrongs and was reprimanded for my tongue, but was never taught of its destruction. I lived through two broken marriages (not my own, but my family’s) that were destroyed because of sin and particularly sexual sin and anger. There was constant tension, and a constant need to always be on the defensive. What children see, they perceive. When a couple is constantly throwing verbal darts at each other, it is often the children that pay the long term consequences even if the couple can mend. Love that totes around anger is not love at all. It is merely a scoreboard of division.
I developed a mindset that out of mistrust, I needed to always voice my opinion. While voicing an opinion can be constructive, human behavior has a bad reputation and constructive restraint usually goes out the window. We see this evidenced in the social justice riots of today, the school shooting of Columbine, and even in the mass murders that occurred through famous historical examples such as the Holocaust. If this paints a morbid picture, then I have done my job. Anger without restraint is ugly. It is morbid. It should not be easily shrugged off.
When I became a Christian and became married, I became aware of the sin anger and had a new relationship with it. What I mean is when I became converted, I no longer saw my sin as pleasurable. When I became married, this forced me to deal with Anger. I had to learn how to effectively communicate. This part of my flesh I am currently waging war against. I constantly am taking this sin to God and asking Him for His assistance because I know I can’t overcome without God’s help.
The song “Overcomer” by Mandisa may suggest we are natural over-comers, but it is a false notion. Without Christ, we fail. We get dragged through the mud and grime of life only to end each day in defeat. That is life without God’s help. There is no notion of an overcomer in that. With God, we can stand through the most perilous storms of life and yet remain rooted on the Rock that is our salvation.
A Plead and a Bargain
If you are struggling with anger today, consider its roots. What is its motive and how will you deal with it? Below are key stripture that address anger:
- Ephesians 4:26-31
- James 1:19-20
- Proverbs 29:11
- James 4:1-2
- Proverbs 19:11
- Matthew 5:22
- Proverbs 15:18
- Psalm 37:8-9
- Proverbs 14:29
I urge you, reader, that if this struggle is yours to deal with anger at its first rearing. Do not let time pass and this sin fester. Trying to take over a small embankment is much easier than trying to assault a fortified city.
For similar articles, please see the below publications.
- Eternal Wisdom
- Enduring Faith
- Spiritual Lamentation
- Social Justice According to the Bible
- The Importance of Praying for Your Children
- The Attributes of God: Inheritor of All Nations
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