How Christians should deal with anger (and no, anger is not a sin)
Anger as a normal, healthy human emotion
Anger is a normal human emotion and, in most cases, anger itself is not a sin. In fact, many times anger erupts from righteousness. For instance, many of us “blow our tops” when we witness someone being harmed or treated badly.
Anger is just another survival mechanism that God built into his beloved creatures. Our brains are hardwired to make and recognize facial clues that may hint at imminent danger. In this sense, anger is a means of communication to others that we are not happy with their behavior.
The physical changes that result when we are angered are virtually identical to the fight-or-flight mechanism. A large surge of adrenaline is released when we are angered. For most people, anger does not feel good which motivates us to try and resolve the situation.
Anger as an abnormal, unhealthy human emotion
The importance of determining the basis of our anger
Anger can also be an unhealthy human emotion, one that can be difficult to control. It is imperative that we regulate our anger and most importantly, control how we react when angered. If feelings of anger are prolonged, it is a sign that something is wrong in your life. Maybe you remain perpetually angry at another race or religion. Maybe you are angry with one specific person. Maybe you are angry and don’t even know why (a very common problem). If your anger is prolonged, it’s important to resolve the underlying trigger or pain point in order to eliminate the unhealthy anger. Ephesians 4:26 tells us,
“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on you anger.”
To do this, we must first determine the basis for the anger.
Controlling flashes of red-hot anger
For many people, anger comes in “flashes” of intense feelings. Usually these flashes of anger burst forth quickly and dissipate just as fast. These often fall into the category of “righteous anger” – anger at a sinful action of someone else. A wise saying tells us,
“When you are in the right, you can afford to keep your temper; when you are in the wrong, you cannot afford to lose it.”
Anger is not always a sin but if you act on anger in an inappropriate manner or allow anger to turn into hatred, then it becomes a sin.
Anger is an open door for Satan
Whether the anger is healthy or unhealthy, there is a risk inherent in the emotion. Anger is an open door for the devil to subtly work his way into your behavior. An inability to control anger can bring on unimaginably horrible consequences. The difference in anger as a normal emotion or sin depends on how you deal with it – and Satan will work hard to guide you toward improper reactions.
How Christians deal with anger
Proverbs 16:32 says,
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his emotions, is mightier than he who captures a city.”
In other words, we must control our emotions, including anger. The ability to control our emotions is a sign of intelligence and discipline – and we can gain both with thoughtful practice and prayer. Here are tips for how Christians can react and control feelings of anger.
First, think about things that make you angry
Learn what makes you angry and recognize how you typically react to the anger in each situation. Next, determine how you should react – how God would want you to react. Rehearse the proper reaction in your mind. This can be done through prayer – ask God to help remind you to react in the appropriate manner when you are angered.
Use physical exercise to help relax the body
Exercise helps relax the body and “burn up” the adrenaline charge that accompanies anger. Of course, exercise is important for our overall health too. Our bodies are temples for God and we should respect them. If you exercise and condition your body, relaxation will come as a result which will help damper feelings of anger.
Actively work to control your reaction to anger
You must actively work to control your reaction to situations that make you angry. Thinking before you speak is a good example. Make sure the first reaction to anger is to stop and think. Condition yourself to do this. Then mindfully control the anger. When you are angry, stop yourself from focusing on the action that made you angry and instead, focus on solutions to the event that triggered the anger.
Do something you enjoy
If you are suffering a longer period of anger, force yourself to take a break and do something you enjoy that relaxes you. Read a book, take a walk, go see a movie or watch an uplifting TV show. Better yet, grab your Bible and start reading!
Follow what the Bible tells us about anger
Read your Bible – the answers to life’s problems can always be found there. Follow the guidance offered in scripture about anger. Learn to forgive – and forget.
Bible verses that teach Christians how to deal with anger
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 – Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
1 Timothy 2:8 – I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
Colossians 3:8 – But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
Colossians 3:13 – Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 – Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
Ephesians 4:26-27 – Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
Ephesians 4:31 – Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Galatians 5:19-20 – Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,
Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
James 1:19-20 – Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James 4:11-12 – Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Jonah 4:4 – And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
Luke 6:31 – And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Matthew 5:22 – But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Matthew 7:1-5 – “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Philippians 4:4-6 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Proverbs 12:16 – The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.
Proverbs 14:16-17 – One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless. A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated.
Proverbs 14:29 – Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 15:18 – A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
Proverbs 16:32 – Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
Proverbs 19:11 – Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 20:3 – It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.
Proverbs 22:24 – Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.
Proverbs 25:28 – A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
Proverbs 27:4 – Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?
Proverbs 29:11 – A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
Proverbs 29:22 – A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.
Proverbs 30:33 – For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.
Psalm 4:4-5 – Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.
Psalm 37:8-9 – Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.