I have dealt with a great deal of anger in my life; from others and from within myself. I share this only as a testimony to God’s grace. Although I am still far from perfect in this and other areas, my faithful and loving Heavenly Father has brought me a much closer to where I should be as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Is getting angry a sin? No.
We know this because Jesus got angry, and He never sinned.
- Mark 3:5 And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.
- Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
However, an inappropriate response to our own anger can lead us into sin. Anger must be dealt with promptly so it doesn’t grow into something that takes us outside the principles, guidelines and expectations God has established for His children.
- Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,
If anger is not addressed quickly and effectively, it can mutate into something very ugly. Here is a very simplified description of how anger can grow into sin. From beginning to end, this process can take seconds or years.
Reaction – Initial Response
- You experience or become aware of something that you respond to with anger.
Rage – Unhealthy Progression
- You feed your anger and it grows into a passionate preoccupation.
Retribution – Seeking Satisfaction
- You appoint yourself judge, jury and executioner; you are determined to even the score.
Determining when your response to anger becomes sinful will require close self-examination. However, this is not about figuring out when you ‘crossed the line’. It is about preventing it if you haven’t or confessing and forsaking it if you have. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
What stirs your anger?
- Angry because of your own sin
- Pride, selfishness, impatience, greed, laziness…
- Angry because of the sin of others
- Murder, stealing, pride, sexual sin, gossip…
- Honestly, I get very uncomfortable with Christians using the phrase ‘righteous indignation’ to justify their anger. Yes, Jesus got angry. But Jesus is the sinless Son of God. The weaknesses of our ungodly human nature can and will cloud our judgment and warp the mirror we use to examine ourselves. The Word of God along with the conviction and guidance of His Holy Spirit are our only hope of accurately assessing the source of our anger and determining an appropriate response to it. Trust God to help you see clearly, not yourself. Speaking to the religious leaders of His time Jesus said:
- Luke 16:15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
- May it never be so for us.
What appeases your anger?
- Satisfying Yourself
- Rejecting – Are you turning your back on someone because of your anger?
- Retaining – Do you refuse to let go of your anger?
- Retaliating – Are you looking for revenge?
- Obedience to God
- Resolving – Are you truly seeking to address the issues that trigger your anger?
- Releasing – Are you willing to forgive someone even if you think they don’t deserve it?
- Restoring – Are you showing Christian love by putting other’s needs ahead of your own?
- We serve the one true God, a God of grace, mercy and love. Yes, He is a God of wrath; but we aren’t.
- Romans 12:17-21 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- May it ever be so with us.
God makes abundantly clear that our wrath can never accomplish His righteousness.
- James 1:19-20 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Here a few verses from God’s Word that deal with our anger and His wrath. His wrath is always justified. We see our wrath as self-justification.
- Ezra 5:12 But because our fathers provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and carried the people away to Babylon.
- Proverbs 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
- Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
- Ecclesiastes 7:9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
- Psalm 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.
- Colossians 3:5-7 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
Anger in response to sin is appropriate.
Anger that leads to sin is not.
Has your anger become sinful? I can’t answer that. But if you truly seek after God and submit to Him and His truth, He will help you find the answers you need. In His love you can learn to manage your anger appropriately. Please, deal with your anger promptly; do not let the sun go down on your wrath.
Holy Father, I know that when Your wrath comes, it is right. But anytime my anger has escalated to the point of a wrathful response, I know I have sinned against You. Above all else You teach us to love You and to love others; to put other’s needs ahead of our own. Please forgive me where I have failed. Please use Your Word to touch the hearts of others and to lead them to repentance over any sinful response to anger in their lives. I pray to You in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.