Anger is a natural response to a perceived threat, and it is a normal emotion. Everyone has felt varying degrees of anger at one time. Anger can be caused by many factors such as, stress, financial issues, marital and family problems, abuse, injustices, guilt, unmet needs and expectations, and past hurts. Oftentimes, depression is anger turned inward. Mental health professionals agree that anger is not always bad, but how you handle anger is. Christian counselors report that 50% of people who come in for counseling are dealing with an anger issue.
Anger is not always sin. There is a type of anger in the Bible often referred to as “righteous anger.” Although God has been angry, His anger also is redemptive and has a purpose. Jesus had righteous anger over how some of the Jews had defiled worship at God’s temple in Jerusalem (John 2: 13-18).
Anger that leads to sin entails attacking the person not the problem, belittling and name calling, making threats, yelling, screaming or cursing, seeking revenge, hitting or making threats of physical abuse, holding onto grudges and unforgiveness, allowing anger to fester, not speaking truth in love, harboring resentment, being unkind and unmerciful, and stirring up strife (Proverbs 15:18; Matthew 5:21-24, Ephesians 4:26-28; Colossians 3:8, 12-13).
Anger has been said to be a warning flag, alerting us to those times when others have violated our boundaries. But we can handle anger Biblically by returning good for evil (Romans 12:21), and by properly communicating to others truth in love, and confronting the problem not the person. Taking some time away or placing stricter boundaries on people who violate your limitations may need to be implemented. Past offenses and injustices should be brought to the throne of Christ, and allow God to bring good from all the things that have caused you anguish (Romans 8:28).
There are warning signs that our physical bodies give when we are getting angry. These can include: heart racing or beating faster, headaches, dizziness, sweaty palms, agitation, clinched fists, tightening of muscles, and flared nostrils. If you begin to experience these forewarnings, step back quickly, because these are the precursors to explosive anger. Express your anger to God, get away and talk to God, pray, and deal with any uncovered emotional issues. One of the best things that you can do to diffuse a hostile situation is, to simply walk away. Come back when you are calmer and have had time for God to speak to you. If you get angry, that’s normal and not sin. If you choose to react in your anger by hurting others in any way; that is sin. Own your anger and take responsibility for your part. No one can make you do anything, it is a choice we make when do not control our anger.
- How do you deal with anger? Has your anger lead to sin? If yes, what ways?
- Do you understand the difference between righteous anger and sinful anger?
- Do you need to forgive someone, let an offense go, or deal with unmet needs and expectation? Write it out, journal it, or write a letter to the offender (you don’t have to send it). If that person has died that you need to forgive, you can still write the letter and dispose of it how you choose.