Given the vast number of words that have been identified with anger in the Scriptures (someone has identified more than 500 terms that reflect a form of anger), this may be an overly simplistic overview of the topic. But perhaps this provides you a good place to start thinking about what anger looks like and then how it progresses and grows.
- All anger is ultimately against God (Js. 1:13, 20; 4:4, 8).
- Anger, like every sin, is the result of allowing the flesh to rule one’s mind and heart and refusing to use restraint and self-control (Js. 1:14).
- Anger is in part the result of not listening — and not being willing to listen (Js. 1:18).
- Anger is in part the result of talking too quickly — not taking time to reflect on what has been heard before responding (Js. 1:18).
- Anger can be controlled by being humble in response to the conviction of the Scriptures (Js. 1:21).
- Anger is a God-given emotion used for Satan’s purposes (Eph. 4:26a).
- Uncontrolled anger is a result of being unwilling to deal with the sin fully and immediately (Eph. 4:26b).
- Anger is closely related to bitterness, wrath, slander, revenge and malice (Eph. 4:31).
- Anger may stem from refusing to forgive others or failing to accept the forgiveness of Christ (Eph. 4:31-32).
- Being angry is a demonstration that either the person has never fully grasped the significance of all that Christ did for him at the cross, or that he has become so hardened that he knows what Christ did, and willingly sins anyway (Eph. 4:32).
- Anger is progressive in nature. It seems to go something like this (based upon the use of the different words):
- Refusal to listen to another person
- Quick response/retort without pausing to consider the effect of words
- A number of quick, heated words accumulate without seeking forgiveness.
- A grudge begins to settle in one’s heart, so he is frequently angry without provocation.
- The sudden anger may disappear, but a sullen state of bitterness is present.
- The “satisfaction” of the momentary outburst is replaced by a quest for revenge.
- The revenge is driven from a heart of real malice — desire for deep, complete, retribution, that may even desire the death of another.
Anger is ugly and harmful. And every person is an angry person (see “Do You Have a Serious Problem with Anger” in Good & Angry by David Powlison). Understanding its origin and its progression is one step towards mortifying it by the Spirit’s power.
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