Listen to the edition of Alive in Christ Radio: Justified Anger
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There are many events, circumstances, and situations that can cause us to have anger issues. It could be as basic as hormonal changes that our body is going through, which is often the case with adolescents along with their growing understanding of the world, or it could be of some deep-seated fear that goes back from our childhood and is triggered by an event, or it could be a recent traumatizing experience that hurt us deeply.
Anger is an emotion that everybody experiences. It is normal, and it is not necessarily a bad thing to be angry. But anger issues vary considerably. If we cannot control our anger, or if we find ourselves angry much of the time over tiny things; for reasons we do not know, then we are not just feeling angry, we have an anger problem that must be worked through and solved. The same thing goes if we are unable to keep our anger in check and resort to hurtful things to express our anger, like cutting our bodies, hurting other people, yelling and throwing things, or even driving ourselves to depression.
What can be the common cause of anger issues?
As mentioned, anger surfaces for a variety of reasons. But some of the more basic precepts that often cause our anger are:
Feelings of Loss: This could mean losing a beloved person. Examples include breaking up after years of being together, divorce, death of a loved one, lost or broken friendships.
Financial Losses: Basically this covers bankruptcy, or the inability to find a job, being without money to pay your bills, or losing money.
Dysfunctional Childhood: This includes situations where we did not have the love and caring that we should have gotten during our formative years, if we were broken more than sculpted as a child, or abused or neglected by our parents.
Traumatizing Events: These events include being mugged; our house was broken into; we have been raped; assaulted; somebody very close to us dies, or we find out that we are dying.
Disappointments: This can involve disappointment within us or with others, feelings of insecurity and lack of achievement, feeling that nobody appreciates or values us, or going after something but failing.
Hopelessness and Anxiety: This includes the feeling that nothing worthwhile is happening, getting discouraged, or feeling lost with nowhere to go to or to run to.
There are many things that can bring about anger issues, but all are able to affect us because some way or the other, it touches something that is important to us. Understand that anger is a way of coping, a way of reacting. We can turn anger into something constructive, we can learn what makes us angry and work toward a solution. Anger does not have to be there forever; once we uncover the root our anger, we are then able to proceed by confronting the cause and ultimately progressing toward anger liberation.
Whatever we decide to do, to truly gain control over anger we must first adopt the desire to do so and then move toward identifying its source. In other words, identifying the root of where anger kicked in. Only then can we truly break free of any anger issues. When we do decide to let go of our anger by turning to God for anger healing, we can be set free from the bondage of anger and those thing we allow to control and anger us.
Anger Management: God’s Way
We know that we all have sin natures that have areas of strength and weakness. You may be strong where I am weak, and vice-versa. So it may be that you would never think of committing a particular sin that I might be having a great deal of trouble with.
But, in one way or another everyone has problems with anger. Sometimes the anger is a quiet, seething resentment or indignation at some large or small offense, real or imagined. Sometimes anger explodes into a rage that can turn into retaliation, violence, or murder.
When we are angry, we hurt people; usually those who are closest to us. And we really hurt ourselves; an angry person is his own worst enemy, as we shall see in this study session.
The truly great news is that as Christians we can have complete victory over the sin of anger!
This study has been prepared to define and discuss what God’s Word (Holy Bible) teaches us about anger, and to answer questions such as:
- What is the difference between sinful anger and righteous indignation?
- Does God get angry?• What causes us to get angry, and what can we do about it?
- How can we have complete victory over the sin of anger?
The Bible describes anger as a sin; a sin of mental attitude. As a sin, anger expresses antagonism, exasperation, indignation, resentment, and outrage. Anger usually produces an emotional feeling, but the feeling is not the anger. The thought pattern which produced the feeling is the sinful anger.
In the Bible, the type of anger which is not sinful is more properly called “righteous indignation”. Righteous indignation does not produce emotion. Thus, whenever emotion is involved, sinful anger is the cause.
The Bible uses two Greek words for anger: orge (οργή: OR-HE), referring to mental anger, and thumos (θυμος: THOO-MAJ), for mental anger. It’s possible, but not common, to have mental anger without an emotional response. In Ephesians 4:31, both types of anger are related to bitterness.
Ephesians 4:31: Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.
Anger is a sin which promotes sins against other people, such as gossip, self-righteous judging, maligning, whining, and complaining.
Both anger and righteous indignation are mental reactions to events or circumstances. If the mental reaction is unjustifiable, it becomes a reaction such as irritation, exasperation, or irrationality. But if a reaction is justifiable, it is never irrational. An example would be righteous indignation regarding heresy.
Christian heresy: According to Merriam-Webster, Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In other words, Christian heresy is defined as adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma.
Righteous indignation is not anger and not emotion. It is a clear understanding of a bad situation because you have a divine viewpoint. Therefore, there is no reaction which leads to anger and sin.
In Mark 10:14, Jesus became opposed to the disciples when they forbade the children to be brought unto Him. Jesus’ reaction was not that of anger; it was an understanding of a wrong. Jesus expressed righteous indignation in Matthew 23:13-36. In this passage of God’s Word Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees.
In Matthew 16:23, Jesus was not angry with Peter when He told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan, you are a stumbling block to me. You have not concentrated on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Another example of righteous indignation is a Christian’s mental attitude toward criminal activity. You can pursue, prosecute, and sentence a criminal without compromising such principles as grace, forgiveness, or impersonal love. You are aware that the criminal’s act is wrong and that he must be stopped. That is righteous indignation. But you don’t hate the criminal or fall apart emotionally because of sinful anger. Impersonal love is a result of Christian growth and allows believers to have a regard for even the most obnoxious people that does not depend on their character or behavior.
It is righteous indignation that allows God to be “angry” about sin, but to love us anyway. His love for us depends on His character, not on ours.
Characteristics of Sinful Anger
- Anger is sin from the sin nature. Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the deeds of the flesh (sin nature) are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…”
- Anger is related to foolishness. Ecclesiastes 7:9, “Do not be quick to be angry in your heart, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.” The Bible defines a fool as a person without wisdom. He may be a genius, but his thinking is from human viewpoint. He thinks and acts apart from God’s standards and controls. The paramount fool (and the beginning of foolishness) is the person who has “said in his heart, There is no God.”Look at Romans 1:18-31 for a detailed description of the results of deliberately turning away from God. A fool is on a rapid downward slide towards destruction, both in this life and the one to come. In the list of terrible sins which characterize the ungodly are several which are either causes or results of anger.
- Anger is associated with grieving the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:30-31, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Notice the contrast here between conditions of anger and the results of impersonal love.
- Anger is a violation of the Christian’s code of conduct as a member of the Body of Christ. Colossians 3:8, 9, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, (and) abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its (evil) practices.”
- Anger hinders effective prayer. 1 Timothy 2:8, “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.”
- Anger is always accompanied by other sins. Proverbs 29:22, “An angry person stirs up strife, and a hot tempered person abounds in transgression.”Anger promotes the sins of gossip, self-righteous judging, maligning, revenge, complaining, bitterness, and many others. Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.”
- Anger makes a person his own worst enemy; he brings misery upon himself. Proverbs 22:8, “He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, And the rod of his fury will perish.” The unhappiness comes from many sources: failure to be occupied with Christ, failure to maintain a relaxed mental attitude, failure to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, thus, failure to grow in Christ. Lack of growth means lack of joy, lack of love, lack of divine viewpoint.
- Anger promotes jealousy and cruelty. Proverbs 27:4.
- Anger causes misery for loved ones, friends, and community. Anger destroys a nation. Proverbs 21:19; 22:24; 24:25; 29:22. Amos 1:11, “Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of Edom and for four I will not revoke its (punishment), Because he pursued his brother with the sword, While he stifled his compassion; His anger also tore continually, And he maintained his fury forever.”
Additional Bible Teachings about Anger
Ephesians 4:26 says “In your anger do not sin.” In other words, “Although you may have become angry, stop sinning.”This verse is quoted from Psalm 4, which is about David’s righteous indignation at the revolt of his son Absalom. He is resisting the temptation to become angry. “Tremble with anger, yet do not sin.” He was tempted to become angry at Absalom because Abaslom had used his position to start a revolution against his father. but he didn’t become angry, he trusted the Lord (Occupation with Christ), and he asked the army to spare Absalom. 2 Samuel 18:5.
It is possible to respond to unfairness or offense without sin. A person may sin against us, yet we can remain without sin. We can put the matter in the Lord’s hands, stay in fellowship, and maintain a relaxed mental attitude. Furthermore, because we stay in fellowship, we are in the best position to be of service in the situation. We can forgive the other person and be open to any reconciliation they might offer. We will at least do our part to keep lines of communication open.
The Bible continually emphasizes righteousness maintained in the face of unfair treatment.
We cannot build our happiness on someone else’s misery. This is what retaliation tries to do. But we’ll never obtain happiness through revenge or by straightening out the other person. To punish someone else using verbal sins or violence is a revenge operation; worse yet, it obstructs divine judgment and discipline. “Judge not, that you be not judged” is intended to warn us to let The Lord handle matters of sins against Himself. The angry person who arrogates to himself the position of judge is in a position of compounded divine discipline himself, worse off than the one who originally caused the trouble.
The Anger of the Lord
The Lord is said to have anger, or to be angry, in several places in the Bible. The word “anger” is used as an anthropo-pathism, a word or phrase that ascribes human characteristics or feelings to God, who is not human. God never reacts emotionally. He is never surprised, shocked, or outraged. But He does have an attitude of wrath or anger against some things.
The phrase “the anger of the Lord” is used in the following passages:
Numbers 25:4; 32:14; Deuteronomy 29:20; Judges 3:8; 10:7; 2:14, 20; 2 Kings 24:20; Lamentations 4:16; Jeremiah 4:8,25,37; 30:24; 51:45; 52:3; Zephaniah 2:2,3; Psalm 2:5.
The phrase “the wrath of God” is used in the following:
2 Chronicles 28:11; Ezra 10:14; Psalm 78:31; John 3:36; Romans 1:18; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6; Revelation 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1; 19:15.
Victory over the Sin of Anger
- Recognize the sin of anger and confess to the Lord when we become angry. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9. This way we will maintain your walk with the Lord and be controlled (filled) by the Holy Spirit.
- Continue to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Forgiveness is an important part of grace being used by a believer. The more we are oriented to God’s plan of Grace, the more adept we will be at using the assets He provides.
- Practice trusting God (or, using Faith). God says, “Cast your care on Me, because I care for you.” When we are in bad situations, tell the Lord about it and let Him handle it.
Anger does not have to be there forever; once we uncover the root of our anger, we are then able to proceed by confronting the cause and ultimately progressing toward anger liberation.
Whatever we decide to do, to truly gain control over anger we must first adopt the desire to do so and then move toward identifying its source. In other words, identifying the root of where anger kicked in. Only then can we truly break free of any anger issues. When we do decide to let go of our anger by turning to God for anger healing, we can be set free from the bondage of anger and those things of which we allow to control and anger us.
May almighty God bless you always,
Founder, Executive Publisher
Christian Times Online