Proverbs 29:11, 22, 33
“A fool lets fly with all his temper, but a wise person keeps it back. 22 An angry person stirs up dissension, and a wrathful person is abounding in transgression. 33 For as churning of milk produces butter and as touching the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.”
“A person’s wisdom makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Proverbs 14: 16, 17
“A wise person is cautious and turns from evil, but a fool throws off restraint and is overconfident. A person who has a quick temper does foolish things, and a person with crafty schemes is hated.”
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”
“Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on the cause of your anger.”
Anger is one of many emotions God has given us and can have a fitting place in the life of a believer. Christ’s turning over the tables when He saw the sin within the church was godly and appropriate. He, the Righteous Judge, is the One Who had the authority to judge the church. We can be angry at the devastation of sin in a person’s life, but that does not mean we are permitted to sin in our display of anger and we do not have the authority to give full vent to our anger. We, as ambassadors for Christ, need to exemplify lives free from ungodly anger, tempered by the humility that the fault we are irritated by in another we are also just as capable of exhibiting.
So when is it appropriate to become angry and how do we navigate through anger in a way that pleases God? Just as God is angered by our sin, as a parent, I am angry when one of my children rebels. Angry at the affect of sin and wanting to prevent them from the harm that sin can produce in their lives. Angry that they chose to disobey, but my response in those moments is what can produce righteousness in their lives versus condemnation and shame. None of us are perfect in our moments of disappointment or anger, but there is a way out when you are tempted to give in to that ire. By directing passion biblically, we can ask for wisdom in the heat of the moment. This is hard to do, but praying and asking God to help us refrain from ungodly words helps us to not be reactionary. If correction is in order, contemplating our own weaknesses should provide ample reason for humility in our response.
The passion often associated with anger and the thoughts we choose to dwell on in a moment of anger are what need to be guided. Rage unchecked is not godly and not permitted scripturally, but apathy and placating wrong is not a correct response, either. What causes anger? Is it something outside of yourself, or inherent? Is a catalyst, such as a person or a circumstance, really the cause of anger? The inability to control, not getting our way, fear, lack of trust and pride can all be contributors to an outburst of anger, but we cannot blame something or someone externally for our anger. Flying off the handle will not help produce righteousness in those we are angry with, either.
Ultimately, anger should not be a dominant emotion in the life of a believer and should truly only be something that propels us to prayer for the person or situation, rather than judgment and bitterness. If the fruit of our anger is ugly; i.e., resentment, vindictiveness or condemnation, that should be a check in our spirit that our anger is not righteous and we need to get rid of all anger and bitterness. While expectations unmet can be discouraging, God understands more than we ever could about people letting us down. May we give our anger to Him, the only Righteous Judge Who forgave us when we were guilty.
Lord, help us to glorify You with our anger and all of our emotions. When we are hurt by others, help us to remember that it is all about You and not us.