We all get angry. Jesus got angry. God gets angry. When is anger right and when is it wrong? Is it wrong not to be angry about some things? When should we express it and when should we swallow our anger? How should we express our anger? There are lots of questions regarding anger. I want to explore the topic of anger—Is it right or wrong?
When I find myself feeling angry, my initial reaction is to feel guilty. After all, shouldn’t a good Christian be able to face anything and say, “Well, that’s okay. I’m not going to be angry or upset about it because I’m a Christian.”? Well, we need to do some Bible research—and some soul searching, as well—so we can know the truth about anger.
If you look up verses in the Bible relating to anger, you see a couple of themes running through all of them.
First, anger is a legitimate emotion and response. The Bible is full of references to the anger of God, how he was provoked to anger, and because of his anger, he did certain things and didn’t do other things. There were several occasions when Jesus displayed obvious anger toward hypocrites and evil practices. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin. . .” (NASB). Therefore, it is not necessarily wrong for us to be angry. Anger can be justified.
Second, anger is an emotion which must be very carefully controlled. While it may not be wrong to be angry, it is wrong to rush into anger and it is wrong to harbor anger. In James 1:19-20 we read, “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (NASB). Ephesians 4:26 says, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (NIV).
Hasty anger will almost always be out of control and inappropriate. Harbored anger will quickly develop into bitterness, malice, and all kinds of ugly things. So, here are two key principles from Scripture: Anger is not always wrong, but it is wrong to be easily angered and to harbor anger.