What Does the Bible Say About Anger?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 1, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Happy New Year! While we should start off the year on a positive note, the reality is that sin is in this world. People (maybe even you) are living with anger in their lives, for whatever reason. Maybe you’re angry at a person for a way they have wronged you. Maybe you’re angry at the circumstances of your life, that may or may not be a result of your choices. Maybe you’re angry at yourself for the choices you’ve made. But whatever the reason, keep reading to see what the Bible says about anger - and maybe these verses will help you start off your 2018 on a more positive note.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the idea of “righteous anger” - anger that is not considered sin, because it is indignation that is intended to spur us on to solve the problems of the world. An example of righteous anger would be anger over an injustice in the world, such as orphans being oppressed, or a government withholding food or basic necessities from its people. When we see in the Bible that God gets angry or has wrath, that’s the type of anger He has, because God does not sin. Psalm 7:11 says, “God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day.” Mark 3:5 (speaking about Jesus, who is God, healing a man on the Sabbath) 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.”

Believers receive a caution regarding our anger in Ephesians 4:26-27: “‘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.” There is a VERY fine line between righteous anger and anger that is sinful, and we need to be extremely cautious not to cross that line into anger. But, most of the time, the anger that we as humans have is sinful. When we express our anger in unhealthy ways, such as getting mad at whoever caused it, that’s sinful. Proverbs 29:11 explains that, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”

What causes anger? James 4:1-6 gives a good explanation: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’”

So what can we do when we do get angry? We should recognize and admit our anger, and confess it to God. Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” We should confess our sin both to God and to the person(s) with whom we are angry.

We can also handle our anger Biblically by doing good instead of retaliating. We see this in Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” We also see Jesus explaining this further in Matthew 5:43-48, that we are to love our enemies (those who cause us to be angry). Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

We are also commanded to live at peace with everyone as best as we are able (Romans 12:18), so that our actions do not cause others to become angry. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

The best advice regarding anger is to simply not get angry in the first place, though of course that is easier said than done. Psalm 37:8-9 says, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”

To sum it up: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)

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