Anger is a fire that burns and consumes—smoldering, flaming, at times white hot. Anger is passion. Of all emotions, it may well be the most passionate, for it has the power to fuel hatred and smother love. Anger itself is not necessarily bad; it is not necessarily wrong. God himself gets angry.
What we need to consider is the object of our anger, the motive for our anger, and the outcome of our anger. Anger that is self-righteous, protects our pride, is self-centered, or demands its own way is dangerous. If allowed to continue unchecked, it will consume us. This kind of anger seeks harm and revenge; it seeks to destroy. Thus it can lead to bitterness and hatred, emotions that can cause violent behavior and obliterate compassion and forgiveness.
God’s anger, however, is directed against sin and unrighteousness. He blazes hot against evil. His anger, like ours, becomes a consuming fire, but its focus is to eradicate the sin so that the sinner can be restored. Our anger often consumes others and even ourselves; God’s anger burns against evil and becomes a cleansing fire. The fires of our anger may aggravate our sinfulness and self-righteousness. His anger burns away sinfulness and allows the “gold” to emerge and make us fit for the Master’s use.
When I am angry, what should I avoid?
• EPHESIANS 6:4 | “Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.”
Avoid discipline in the heat of anger.
• JAMES 3:5 | “The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.”
Avoid speaking your mind when you are angry. You are likely to say something you will regret.
• 1 SAMUEL 19:9-10 | “As David played his harp, Saul hurled his spear at David.”
Avoid acting on impulse in the heat of anger. You are likely to do something you will regret.
When is it okay to be angry?
• JOHN 2:15-16 | “[Jesus] drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins . . . and . . . told them, ‘Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!'”
• NUMBERS 25:11 | “Phinehas . . . has turned my anger away from the Israelites by being as zealous among them as I was.”
Anger at sin is not only appropriate but also necessary. It is a sign that our priorities are in line with God’s, that we understand the destructive force of sin, and will confront it with the same passion that God does.
We all get angry at times, so what should we do about it?
• EPHESIANS 4:26-27 | And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
Anger is like a skunk in the house. Don’t feed it to encourage it to stay. And carefully try to get rid of it as soon as possible.
• MATTHEW 5:21-23 | “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder.’. . . But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! . . . Go and be reconciled to that person.”
Confront those you are angry with in order to restore your relationship.
• 1 CORINTHIANS 13:5 | [Love] is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
Love is the mightiest weapon in overcoming anger.
• PROVERBS 11:29 | Those who bring trouble on their families inherit the wind.
• EPHESIANS 6:4 | Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.
To knowingly provoke your family to anger weakens the binding force—love—that bonds your family together. The control you seek actually enslaves you.