I have had my own issues in the past with not handling anger very well. In fact, my wife will tell you that at one time, she was pretty sure that I held the world record for broken Television remote controls. To this day, I don’t know what they ever did to me, but I bounced them off of the wall, the floor, coffee-table or anything else that I could find. I had real anger management issues.
Anger, when it is misused, may come and go quickly, but so does a tornado, and just like the aftermath of a tornado, it takes a lot of effort and time to clean up the mess that is left behind.
We tend to believe that anger is always a bad thing, but sometimes it is a sin to not be angry. In John chapter 2 we see a time that the Lord Jesus Christ got angry. Angry enough to make a weapon, and we know that Jesus never sinned. In Matthew 5:22, Jesus says that the issue that determines if our anger is good or bad lays with our cause. What is the cause of our anger? Do we even have a cause?
The Apostle Paul teaches us that we are not saved by our good works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5), but once we have accepted the free gift of eternal life and have trusted Jesus as our personal Lord and Saviour, there is a new way to live. In Ephesians chapter four, he gives us a contrast between how we used to live our lives versus how we should be changed:
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. - Ephesians 4:17-27
- Walk not as other Gentiles
- in the vanity of their mind
- having their understanding darkened
- because their hearts are blinded
- Put off the old man
- be renewed in your mind
Anger starts in the mind and moves to your heart. I want to spend some time on this one phrase that we see in Ephesians 4:26
Be ye Angry, and sin not
We will look at four ways to be angry and sin not:
- Be angry about the right things
- Give proper place to anger
- Control your anger
- Resolve your anger
Be angry about the right things
First, we need to make sure that our anger is properly motivated, that we are angry about the right things. What makes people mad? Usually, the thing that makes most people mad is a real or supposed injury to self.
This injury to self that causes our anger is manifested in three primary ways:
- Pride is a primary cause of anger. Naaman was angry when Elisha sent a mere messenger out to speak to him in 2 Kings 5:9-12:
So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
His pride was injured. He thought that surely the Man of God would come out to see him in person, after all, he was a very important and powerful person. How dare Elisha send a messenger, and why should he dip in the dirty waters of the Jordan river when he had much cleaner water that he could have dipped in back at home. His pride and his inflated opinion of himself are what caused his anger.
Another example of when pride caused someone’s anger is found in 2 Chronicles 26:14-21:
And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings to cast stones. And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king's house, judging the people of the land.
Uzziah the King, was lifted up in pride because his fame had gone all throughout the land. He started to believe his own press and thought that he could do anything that he wanted. When he was corrected it injured his pride and caused him to be very angry.
The Lord hates pride
In Proverbs, we are given a list of six things that the Lord hates. Six things that he can not stand and wants no part of:
These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. - Proverbs 6:16-19
The first thing on the list is pride! Pride was the cause and reason for the fall of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-15). Pride will always cause you to fall (Proverbs 16:18)
Don’t allow your pride to cause your anger.
- Jealousy is the next thing that will cause your anger.
- Cain was jealous of Able (Genesis 4:4-5)
- Eliab was jealous of David (1 Samuel 17:28)
- Saul was jealous of David (1 Samuel 18:8)
- The elder brother was jealous of the prodigal son (Luke 15:28)
In all of these examples, jealousy was the root cause for their anger. Jealousy causes rage in an individual:
For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance - Proverbs 6:34
- Finally, we see that one of the major causes of anger in people today is The Truth. Sounds strange, I know, but it is true none the less. Some people get angry when they are told the truth.
And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars. Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time. - 2 Chronicles 16:7-10
People don’t want the truth, they can’t handle the truth when it’s about them. They want someone to tell them what they want to hear. People reject the truth when it is not pleasing to their ego. See also Jeremiah 37:6-15.
Results of selfish anger
The results of selfish anger in the heart of an individual are manifested in the following ways. Selfish anger will bring strife into your life. Most people claim that they would like to live in peace, but by allowing selfish anger into their lives, they actually get more and more strife, arguments and problems. Selfish anger caused Cain to murder his brother (Genesis 4:8). And it will bring strife into your life as well:
An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression. - Proverbs 29:22Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife. - Proverbs 30:33
Selfish anger will also bring judgment your way. In Genesis, we learn of a time when Simeon and Levi exacted rage and revenge on an entire city. Jacob, their father felt that they took it too far and at the end of his life (Genesis 49:5-7) he stated that they would come into judgment for those actions. We too will be judged if we allow selfish anger to control our actions.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that if you keep your anger bottled up inside (which never works anyhow), that no-one will ever know:
In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. - Romans 2:16
The Lord knows and he will judge us even for our secrets. Don’t allow selfish anger to bring you into judgment. Finally, selfish anger will lead you into sin if it is left unchecked:
For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. - James 1:20
What should make us angry?
The question then becomes, after looking at what usually makes us angry, is what should make us angry? Our anger needs not to be a selfish anger, but rather a divine anger.
When God’s glory is given away
We should get angry when God’s glory is given to someone or something other than to him. That is what made Moses angry:
And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. - Exodus 32:19
When Moses had been up on the mountain with God for 40 days, the people got weary of waiting for him to return and decided to make a golden calf to worship, and they were giving that idol the glory and credit for everything that had happened to them. The glory and credit belonged to God. When Moses witnessed what was happening, he got so mad that he took the most precious thing in the world (the first written words of God to man) and threw it away. Moses was angry because the nation had given God’s glory to another.
We too should get angry when God’s glory is given away as it is in our society on a daily basis:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. - Romans 1:18-23
When injustice is found
We should also get angry when we see injustice happening all around us as it is today! Too many people are fine with injustice so as long as it is not affecting them or their families. We should get angry anytime we see an injustice, whether it affects us personally or not:
And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. - 2 Samuel 12:1-6
David was outraged when heard of this injustice and demanded a penalty for the individual that was involved. When Nathan informed David that he was the man, Notice that David repented to the Lord, but he never recanted the judgment that he placed on the man for the injustice. We should get good and angry when we see injustice happening around us.
For hardened hearts
And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. - Mark 3:1-5
The religious leaders were more interested in the “rules” than in what was really important. They wanted to focus on the rules that they had set up and could not allow themselves to enjoy or recognize the blessing that it was to be present as God himself performed a miracle right before their eyes. Plenty of people will stand in line for hours or even days in order to get a chance to see some magician act like they are doing something miraculous, but will ignore all the miraculous things that God is doing in their lives. Jesus became angry at these people because they had hardened their hearts toward God.
We should get good and angry when people harden their hearts toward God.
None of the proper reasons for anger are personal
Notice that none of these reasons for what should make us angry are personal in any way. They are all focused on God and not on us. Selfish anger resents the hurt or the result of a supposed or real injury. Divine anger resents the wrong that has been done. We need to learn to love the things that God loves, and to hate the things that God hates and to be angry about the same things that make God angry.
Give proper place to anger
Secondly, after you ensure that your anger is based on a just cause, you need to give proper place to that anger. Just because you are angry about the right things, does not mean that you should allow that anger to run rampant in your life.
Respond with caution
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: - James 1:19
We are cautioned to be slow to anger. Only the foolish rush into anger (Proverbs 14:17) without all of the applicable information. Be honest, how many times have you rushed to judgment in a fit of anger, only to find out that you did not have all of the information, and if you had, you would have had a different response?
Don’t rush into anger over some great injustice that you perceive to be happening. Maybe you don’t know the whole story, King David jumped to judgment (2 Samuel 12:1-6) before he fully understood what was being reported to him, and he had to pay the price.
Take the time to think before you get angry.
Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame. - Proverbs 25:8
If you jump straight to anger, where do you go from there? Now what? Take time to fully assess what is happening and ensure that your response is warranted. The goal of our anger should be to find or offer a resolution in order to reconcile two parties together.
A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife. - Proverbs 15:18
Anger should stir you into action
We should respond with caution as mentioned above, but we should respond. One of the biggest problems in Christianity today is passive Christians. We have not been called to be passive, we have been called to be soldiers for the Lord.
- We are called to serve
- We are called to stand
- We are called to be steadfast
Keep your flesh under subjection
Thirdly, we need to stay in control of our anger:
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; - 2 Corinthians 10:5
We are responsible to maintain self-control. This applies to every segment of your life and especially when it comes to your anger. Without self-control, you will make yourself vulnerable to attack. It is as if you let your guard down and don’t have any defenses at your disposal:
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. - Proverbs 25:28
However, with self-control, you will be able to withstand the attacks of the enemy. You will be protected from those attacks and will be able to properly respond:
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. - Proverbs 16:32A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards. - Proverbs 29:11
Self-control affects the whole person
Self-control will affect your entire being, not just your anger. Self-control will allow you to respond appropriately in your:
- Actions (1 Corinthians 9:23-27)
- Thoughts (1 Peter 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8)
- Words (Proverbs 21:23; Psalms 141:3)
Resolve your anger
Finally, the fourth way to properly handle your anger is to get it resolved. Anger needs to be resolved the same day that it is provoked within us:
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. - Ephesians 4:26-27
If we do not resolve our anger within the same day, we will give place for the Devil to work and he will pull us away from the very things that we should be moving toward. And we will feel justified in so doing because after all, our cause is just. Now if you look back at the reasons that we should be angry, you will see most, if not all of these things are bigger than what can be fixed in a day. I did not say that they need to be fixed on the same day, but rather we need to resolve them within ourselves the same day.
Don’t nurse a grudge
A sore that is left untreated will fester until is gets infected and then it will start to cause major and serious complications. There have been numerous people who have failed to address a small cut, which in turn became infected and turned into gangrene which caused them to lose a limb. No matter how long you nurse a grudge, it will never get better.
Give place to you anger
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12:17-21
Give your anger to the Lord, cease from extended periods of anger (Psalms 37:8). They will just lead you to a place that you don’t want to go and will cause you to stay there longer than you want to stay.
- Be ye angry and sin not
- Check you anger
- make sure it is just and for the right cause
- Don’t let anger rule over you
Keep anger in its proper place
Give your anger to the Lord and let Him resolve it for you.
Our hope at Irvington Bible Baptist Church is that this podcast provided some encouragement and has helped you to develop a closer relationship with the LORD Jesus Christ.