When we think of anger in the Bible our thoughts first turn to that amazing scene of Christ overturning the tables of the money lenders in the temple (John 2 13-17). It wasn’t just a case of using holy ground to conduct business, but Jesus considered it a desecration and a sin and was rightly and righteously angry.
Does this conflict with our view of how God acts, as well as how we need to manage our anger? When and should we be righteously angry? The following verses will help you along this tricky path of understanding.
Refrain from anger and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. – Psalm 37:8
Every day we face issues that can make us angry to a greater or lesser extent. Someone in your family does something careless that upsets you. An old friend lets you down at the last minute when they promised to do something or go somewhere with you. Anger is our natural human response, but you need to take heed that holding on to such an emotion can be a sin.
You need to let it go. Don’t make hasty decisions you may regret later while in this state. Anger, caused by our normal desires such as love, fear, respect, hope, control, must not overpower our wish to please the Lord. We seek expression and when held back in any way feel frustrated or trapped.
This is most often expressed in angry words at the person thought to be responsible. When looking at anger in the Bible we can see our ancestors went through much the same in their world. With God’s help, we can learn to practice restraint, forgive, and move forward.
In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. – Ephesians 4:26
In your anger, do not give Satan a foothold. Do not allow your anger to turn to bitterness and resentment by prolonging the issue. It never works. Do your best to speak with the person you are angry with as soon as possible. Talk it out rationally.
Do not let it fester like a sore. When Paul said not to let the sun go down on your anger, he was admonishing us to put our anger aside at the end of the day and never take it to bed with us. And remember to respect the other person and make sure they are ready to talk.
According to the John MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Ephesians 4, “anger is not momentary outward, boiling-over rage or inward, seething resentment, but rather a deep-seated, determined and settled conviction. As seen in this passage, its New Testament use can represent an emotion good or bad, depending on motive and purpose.”
We are to be angry without sinning. There are many examples of anger in the Bible, but it is never an excuse to sin. If your anger is uncontrolled, it will quickly lead to wrongdoing. Self-control is required to channel your emotions in a way that respects God and his people.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1
Words can be helpful and healing. They provide hope and encouragement. If you can diffuse a tricky situation with the right words, you can avert a serious argument or conflict. But they must ring true. Harsh words will wound and hurt and stir the flames of anger. The tongue is a small part of the body, yet it causes so much harm (James 3:5).
If we want to deflate another person’s anger, we have to offer a measured, calm, understanding response. This is not always easy to do in the heat of the moment. Angry words will only promote greater conflict and escalate the situation into a possible physical reaction, even if we feel the anger against us is unjust.
To answer the question of anger in the Bible and our daily lives, we need to consider whether we want to anger another person made in God’s image. Soft words will diffuse a tense stand-off. Pray for God’s help to make that choice today.
If a ruler’s anger rises against you, do not leave your post, calmness can lay great offenses to rest. – Ecclesiastes 10:4
In place of a ruler or magistrate, think of your current boss at work instead. If you have erred and are reprimanded, how do you feel? Subjugated? Put down? Do you want to take revenge? So, do you submit and defer saying you were in the wrong? The right reaction may help you keep your position. This example of anger in the Bible is clear.
A calm approach to the situation is paramount. If this is a working environment, certain protocols and rules must be followed by all parties. You have rights that include a fair hearing. You don’t need to get angry. Tell the truth and let it speak for you. Calmness and honesty are always the best policy. It helps clear the air should any reprisals occur later.
“There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” – Isaiah 57:21
The Lord will be there for us all, whatever position in life you may find yourself. He will embolden you; lift your spirit and strengthen the heart of the meek and mild.
Does our Lord God become angry over our actions as His son did in the Temple? Yes, in this instance of anger in the Bible. Man was punished for his sin and the Lord offered a plan for redemption; to restore comfort and peace to him once more.
If we are saved through Christ, we are counted as righteous and not wicked, and through this amazing grace, we are forgiven and granted eternal life in heaven. Keeping this perspective can help us when we are tempted to lash out in anger.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4
In the apostle Paul’s day, this instruction was directed at both parents. Fathers need to bring up their children in a way that helps them accomplish their goals and our expectations of them. Do not be cruel or unfair or favor one over the other. This will goad them to anger and cause them to sin.
As godly parents, we need to discipline our children, teach self-control, and restraint from personal desires on our part. Every Christian parent must lead by example – a critical point in our verses on anger in the Bible.
We want the best for our children, but too often try to live out our lives through them, pushing them into something we would have chosen to do rather than letting them decide on a life path. Children who learn respect for real authority will more likely succeed in life and will be better able to manage their anger appropriately.
But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these; anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. – Colossians 3:8
Uncontrolled anger and rage are ungodly. We should ask ourselves if the issue is worth the emotion expended on it. Rage or wrath must be left to God to deliver – the only one who can always do so righteously.
We must exhibit the grace of God in our daily lives since we have shed the graveclothes of our old life and put on new ones. Therefore, we must “put aside” who we were. Your life is now with the Lord. We have been made new. If we have truly changed, our family and those we meet will notice and appreciate it.
We will appear calmer, more compassionate and understanding, and better able to manage our lives in a more dignified and patient manner. You have been cleansed of your sins. Allow God to work through you to influence others and reflect His love and grace.
My dear brothers, take note of this; everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. – James 1:19
This noteworthy phrase indicates how we should behave in our Christian lives. In this instance, James is saying to his followers that they must continue to be faithful to the Lord God through all the trials they go through here on earth, trusting and obeying God and not “flying off the handle” in anger.
This enables one to see a situation with a clear perspective and reply with an equally clear, logically thought-out answer. Many difficult confrontations can be solved better this way, though our instinct is to become defensive, self-focused, prideful, vengeful, and self-righteous, which can lead to sinful anger and allowing the situation to spiral out of control.
Anger is a natural emotion but indicates a lack of trust in our submission to God; we aren’t getting our own way! This verse on anger in the Bible shows how, through faith, we can control this emotion and act out God’s word daily.
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. – Psalm 34:14)
This Psalm of David teaches us not to be tempted by evil from others or within us. Our anger needs to remain under control and righteous. Seek peace in your life. Strive for it even, for it shows a God-fearing attitude.
Stirring up trouble is not in character for those who fear God (Matthew 5:9). If you are currently experiencing anger at anyone or at a situation you are in, bring it to the Lord in prayer. This cannot be stressed enough. He will hear your pleas for help and guide you through the situation.
There are many instances of anger in the Bible. In our anger, we must forgive and seek peace and not hold that hurtful emotion within us. It will eat away at our souls. Let God deliver any retribution needed. He alone is our deliverer from sin, and He will come to judge every act done.
Christian Counseling for Anger Issues
If you are looking for additional anger management support from a biblical perspective, I invite you to contact me or one of the other counselors in the online counselor directory to schedule an appointment for anger management counseling. We would be happy to meet with you!
Can Believers Be Angry Without Sinning? (gty.org): (John MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Ephesians 4)
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