Is Anger Permissible In Christianity? Or Can God Alone Be Angry?
Anger is a very common feeling. Christian counselors say that half of all people who come in for counseling have problems dealing with anger. Anger can destroy communication and even tear apart relationships, and it’s unhealthy for both the individual and those they come in contact with. It also ruins the joy and health of many. Sadly, people tend to justify their anger instead of taking responsibility for it. Everyone deals with anger to some degree – unfortunately, God’s Word is often used by others as justification or permission in order to sinfully “vent” their anger. Thankfully, however, God’s Word provides principles on how one should handle this natural emotion; it also shows how one can overcome their sinful tendencies.
Anger is not always sin. There is a type of anger which the Bible approves, often called “righteous indignation.” God is angry (Psalm 7:11; Mark 3:5). The Bible also commands believers to be angry at injustice (Ephesians 4:26). Two words in the New Testament are translated as “anger”—one of which means “passion, energy” and the other means “agitated, boiling.” Biblically, anger is an emotion that God intends to help us solve problems. David’s frustration over hearing Nathan the prophet sharing an unjust act (2 Samuel 12) and Jesus’ anger over how some Jews had defiled worship at God’s temple in Jerusalem (John 2:13-18) are examples of biblical anger not involving self-defense, but defending others or a principle.
Anger is okay, just as long as it’s directed in the right way. Anger can help protect people from those who want to do harm. It’s important to understand that anger can help some victims after they’ve been hurt. When someone does something wrong, we should get angry about it. This will alert us to someone trying to hurt us or something we care about. It’s okay to feel angry when someone has done something to hurt you or your family. This is especially true for victims who are trying to heal from tragedy and abuse. Victims who have been attacked need a safe home where they are cared for and nurtured by loved ones who allow them time for their anger and process through trauma before giving all of themselves back at once. They need patience in order to fully process their anger, not shaming. It’s also important for victims not take on the guilt of the perpetrator; only they are responsible for what they’ve done, while the victim has forgiveness in his/her own heart if he/she so desires.”
One thing many people don’t know is that anger can also become sinful. For example, when it is motivated by pride, is unproductive, or is allowed to linger long after the initial incident. Anger becomes sin when it boils over and never ceases, resulting in hurt for those around you. You can tell anger has turned to sin because the angry person does not want to forgive and will not be pacified. One way this happens is through depression and irritability from keeping things bottled up.
When we’re angry, it’s common to react in sinful ways. We need to recognize that our anger is a sin, just like any other sin (Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9). When we make that realization, we need to talk to both God and those who were hurt by our anger. It’s also important not to justify or minimize our anger as a sin by making excuses or blaming others for it.
Bible verses like James 1:2-4, Romans 8:28-29, and Genesis 50:20 remind us that God is sovereign over everything and every person who crosses our paths. That includes when people do bad things to us – nothing happens to us that He doesn’t cause or allow. Though God does allow bad things to happen, He is always faithful to redeem them for the good of His people. Bible verse Psalm 145:8 says that God is a good God. Reflecting on this truth will help us react differently when someone hurts us, because we’ll understand that they have not hurt us without a purpose.
Sometimes, anger is unavoidable and we might need to handle it properly. Biblically speaking, you can make sure that God’s wrath is taken care of. This is especially important in situations where “evil” people abuse “innocent” people. Both Genesis 50:19 and Romans 12:19 tell us not to “play god.” In those desperate moments, we can trust God who sees all to act justly (Genesis 18:25).
If we realistically look at Genesis 50:21 and Romans 12:21, we can see that unless we return good for evil, anger will never change. In Matthew 5:43-48, Christ teaches us that our hearts can be altered by our actions–if we change how we act toward someone else, it can change the way we feel about them. This provides a biblical solution to handling anger.
We can handle anger biblically by communicating how we feel and solving the issue. The four basic rules of communication are found in Ephesians 4:15-32:
As we speak, it’s important to reflect the honesty and love found in Ephesians 4:15,25. People cannot read our minds; we must be transparent with them.
Don’t let what’s bothering you escalate. Criticism is generally healthy and often our responses to it might seem like frustration, but they are actually the adrenalin our bodies use to fight or flee from danger.
When we disagree, it’s easy to take a combative approach, but that does more harm than good. Ephesians 4:29 tells us to, “Not get involved in foolish argument just because someone has worked themselves into an emotional frenzy” (AMP). We’ll also remember Proverbs 15:1, which reminds us that “A calm and reasoned response is the best response.”
4) Act, don’t react. Ephesians 4:31-32 teaches us that our first impulse as humans is often sinful (v. 31). The time spent in “counting to ten” should be used to reflect on the godly way to respond (v. 32) and to remind yourself how the energy anger provides can help you solve problems and not create bigger ones.
For people with trouble managing their emotions, anger can sometimes be prevented preemptively by putting up stricter boundaries. We are told to be discerning (1 Corinthians 2:15-16; Matthew 10:16). We need not “cast our pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6). Anger can happen when we recognize that certain people may not be safe for us and we need to cut ties with them. This doesn’t mean that we don’t forgive them, but it does mean that we re-enter the relationship.
We need to take responsibility for our own actions, rather than blaming others. It may not be easy, but there are things we can do to solve our own problems (Romans 12:18). Changing a temper is not achieved overnight, but through prayer, Bible study, and relying on God’s Holy Spirit, ungodly anger can be overcome. We may have allowed anger to become ingrained in our lives due to habitual practice; however, like any behavior it can also be practiced incorrectly until it becomes a habit and God is glorified by our response.