We all know what anger is, and we’ve all felt it: whether as a fleeting annoyance or as full-fledged rage, fury, or wrath! Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion.
But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems everywhere — problems at work, in your home, personal relationships, at church, and in the overall quality of your life. It can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion. Anger is “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage.”
Anger is manifested in the individual who spurns love and opts instead for fury. It is also known as Wrath. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes. when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones and adrenaline. Anger can be caused by both external and internal events.
Externally, you could be angry at a specific person (such as a coworker or supervisor), or event (a traffic jam, a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Internally, memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.
The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival. On the other hand, we can’t physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; laws, social norms, and common sense place limits on how far our anger can take us. Some people really are more “hotheaded” than others are; they get angry more easily and more intensely than the average person does.
There are also those who don’t show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. Easily angered people don’t always blow up and throw things; sometimes they withdraw socially, sulk, or get physically ill. People who are easily angered generally have a low tolerance for frustration, meaning simply that they feel that they should not have to be subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. They can’t take things in stride, and they’re particularly infuriated if the situation seems somehow unjust: for example, being corrected for a minor mistake.
Why are some of us this way?
A number of reasons. One cause may be genetic or physiological: There is evidence that some children are born irritable, touchy, and easily angered, and that these signs are present from a very early age. Another may be sociocultural. Anger is often regarded as negative; we’re taught that it’s all right to express anxiety, depression, or other emotions but not to express anger. As a result, we don’t learn how to handle it or channel it constructively.
TYPES OF ANGER
All anger is not sin. All anger is not the same. There are various types of anger that we can identify. Let us examine three types: Rage, Resentment, and Righteous Indignation!
The first type of anger is rage. Rage is vicious, explosive anger that seeks to hurt others verbally or physically. It is very dangerous and stands at the most harmful end of the anger spectrum. It is open war on your circumstances or on the person toward whom you feel extreme anger. Have you previously or do you now find yourself in the grip of rage? Is this type of anger ever presented favorably in Scripture?
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, Idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group. Galatians 5:19, 20
The second and more common form of anger is resentment. It is inner turmoil that seethes and boils. It can be a response toward someone who wronged you or an unjust situation that hurt you or your loved ones. It can be as destructive as rage since the victim of resentment suppresses his resentment and suffers emotionally and/or physically. Has resentment toward another gripped or is gripping your emotions? A question to ask yourself is…..What will it do to you and others?
Look after each other so that none of you will miss out on the special favor of God. Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for whenever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison. Hebrews 12:15
While both rage and resentment are condemned in Scripture, the third type of anger: righteous indignation is presented but not in a sinful or condemning context. This is the kind of anger we feel when we witness certain forms of injustice and wicked or evil acts.
Righteous indignation should motivate us to become positively involved by our love for God and regard for His honor in opposing social or personal evils. However, we must be careful for even our good intentions can be sabotaged by Satan. An excellent example is the “Right to Life” belief or campaign. When Jesus scattered the peddlers at the temple, He was expressing righteous indignation.
Why was He upset?
He said, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” The blind and the lame came to him, and he healed them there in the Temple. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the little children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” But they were indignant and asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’ Matthew 21:13-16
According to 2 Corinthians 5:14, what is to be the controlling motive for our actions?
Whatever we do, it is because Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live.
Should that influence the way we express righteous indignation?
EFFECTS OF ANGER
Anger, if allowed to fester and grow can cause devastating effects on your body, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Physically, anger can produce a host of physical problems ranging from ulcers to hypertension and other heart diseases. If entertained on a sustained basis, anger can be very detrimental to your physical health. Emotionally, probably the most common companion of anger is depression.
Depression is often anger turned inward resulting from being hurt by someone. This combination of anger, depression, and hurt is very destructive to our spiritual and emotional well-being. Who was Saul angry at? Why? Did he check his rage? Did it affect his emotions?
So David hid himself in the field, and when the new moon festival began, the king sat down to eat. He sat at his usual place against the wall, with Jonathan sitting opposite him and Abner beside him. But David’s place was empty. Saul didn’t say anything about it that day, for he said to himself, “Something must have made David ceremonially unclean. Yes, that must be why he’s not here.”
But when David’s place was empty again the next day, Saul asked Jonathan, “Why hasn’t the son of Jesse been here for dinner either yesterday or today?” Jonathan replied, “David earnestly asked me if he could go to Bethlehem. He wanted to take part in a family sacrifice. His brother demanded that he be there, so I told him he could go. That’s why he isn’t here.” Saul boiled with rage at Jonathan. “You stupid son of a whore!” he swore at him. “Do you think I don’t know that you want David to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother?
As long as that son of Jesse is alive, you’ll never be king. Now go and get him so I can kill him!” “But what has he done?” Jonathan demanded. “Why should he be put to death?” Then Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan, intending to kill him. So at last Jonathan realized that his father was really determined to kill David. In 1 Samuel 20:24-33.
DON’T BLOW IT!
Remember not all anger is sinful or even bad. If angry at someone, often our anger can be resolved through clear-headed communication and loving confrontation. Sometimes this is not possible. In such cases, we should realize our anger, if allowed to brew, can spill over into sinful actions or harmful emotions. We never have a biblical excuse for becoming combative or overly aggressive. In Acts 15:36-40:
Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not shared in their work. Their disagreement over this was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Paul chose Silas, and the believers sent them off, entrusting them to the Lord’s grace. So they traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia to strengthen the churches there.
Do you think Paul was angry with John Mark? Absolutely, because John Mark took off and left them in Pamphylia. Does the passage say Paul sinned? Absolutely not, he strongly disagreed with Barnabas’ decision which resulted in them going separate ways rather than spreading rumors about each other. Did they resolve the conflict in an appropriate manner? They certainly did, they agreed to disagree by parting company to continue spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a great example on how to handle anger appropriately. Acknowledge your anger to yourself and God. It is impossible to hide your anger form an omniscient God, and it is equally hard to fool yourself. Have you been honest with God and yourself regarding your anger, or have you tried to hide it under a layer of superficial Christianity? Can you hide anything from God? Why not? Psalm 139:1-6:
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know!
Tell God that you are angry at (identify the source). Open the channel of communication with your heavenly Father who will not condemn you for your feelings. Identifying your source of anger will keep you from hurting others who are innocent. Perhaps you are angry at someone at work and take it out on your family. Do they deserve such treatment? Now, having pinpointed the source of your anger, choose to respond to it through the power of the Holy Spirit. No one can make you angry. You make yourself angry. This is a crucial principle to realize. You can control your emotions because you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the supernatural presence of God who gives you His power of self-control.
There is no excuse for out-of-control anger when the God who controls heaven and earth lives within you to make you like Himself. Deal with your anger quickly through the power of the Holy Spirit. Come to God in prayer and ask for His supernatural help. Specifically ask that the fruit of self-control produced by the Holy Spirit will be cultivated in your life. Ephesians 4:31 tells us to put away anger and wrath. What is the primary way we do that according to Ephesians 4:32?
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
Right now choose to forgive the person who has hurt you (made you angry). Lord, I choose to forgive who has hurt me (made me so very angry), even if it is You!
God wants you to experience an abundant life. Suppressed anger or ongoing rage and resentment is a spiritual barrier reef erected against the love of God. People or circumstances may have hurt you, but you can respond in forgiveness through your new life in Christ. You are not a victim of your circumstances but a victor through Jesus Christ.
Father, thank You for loving me even when I am angry. I realize that cultivated anger damages my relationship with You and keeps me spiritually ill at ease. Thank You that I can forgive those who hurt me and cope with those situations that stimulate anger through Your calm, indwelling Spirit. I am a new creature in Christ. I am not a slave of anger. Christ controls me, and I yield my anger to Him. Refresh me with Your love and help to walk by the Spirit each day under His stable influence.
GOD’S WORD FOR YOU
Here are some scriptures especially for you who are dealing with anger.
1 Timothy 2:8
1 John 2:9-11