An Examination of Anger

A Misunderstanding

It has been believed by many that the emotion of anger is in itself sinful. Such an understanding would imply that by simply becoming angry one is violating a law of God and should repent of sin. However, the connection between anger and sin is not a direct correlation. For instance, both God Himself and Christ have become angry over the practice of sin in the world. If anger was inherently sinful, neither God nor Christ could have expressed such an emotion. It is also important to remember the words of Paul, quoting the psalmist when he writes “be angry, and yet do not sin” (Eph. 4:26, NASU.) How could such an act be possible if anger was inherently sinful?

Getting Close to Sin

This understood, it must be noted that a majority of situations where anger is an emotional response sin is very close nearby. It should be, therefore, an emotion greatly restrained and controlled. To better understand whether such a danger of sin exists, it is important to answer two questions about such anger.

What is the cause of your anger?

While the choice to become angered resides with the individual, the cause of such anger will explain much as to whether such anger is acceptable. A vast majority of the time, anger is seen in response to selfish causes. These could include reaction to personal insults, challenges of ego, attacks upon pride, etc. These causes do not commonly rise to the need for anger to exist. However, there are some instances when anger is justified. The world is full of many wicked practices which, frankly, should anger Christians more than they do. This form of “righteous indignation” is a fitting impetus for challenging such sin in the world.

What will you do with such anger?

It is at this point that the problem of sinful acts comes into view, and the primary cause for confusing anger with sin. It is one thing to become upset at a personal insults, it is another to return in kind. It is one thing to become upset at an attack upon pride, it is another to hold a grudge against someone else. Even “righteous indignation” can be misused if the response to wickedness is simply to return wickedness. It is in answering this question that self-control plays a major role. In this moment, one can choose to change something evil into a return for good.

Necessary Self-Control

With these two questions in mind we see that anger is an emotion with many pitfalls that must be controlled. However, this does not mean that being angry is inherently sinful. Sometimes anger (like any emotion) can be a cause for standing for good. Just make sure it never controls you.

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