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How to deal with Anger

By: Scott Morton

As Bible believers, we know that we should look to the Bible to help us to deal with things in our lives. One thing that many people have to struggle with is how to deal with the anger they experience. They don't really know how to deal with it and it ends up causing many problems in their lives.

I am sure that even if you have never had a problem with this, you have known someone that has had this problem. It is something that can be seen on a daily basis. The next time you are in a store and see people waiting in a long line, look at how they are reacting. There is bound to be someone that will end up starting to get upset about the fact that they have been waiting for a long period of time. This will end up leading to one of many different reactions, such as yelling, turning different shades of red, muttering things under their breath, or storming away.

It is important for us to know how to effectively deal with anger the way that God would want us to. It is inevitable that we are going to experience anger at some point. Therefore, we are going to spend some time identifying the proper method that we need to use.

Made in God's Image

This is something that we don't always think about, but it is true. We were initially made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28). It is after the fall of man that is recorded in Genesis 3 that we see something different occurring. The end result of the transgression of Adam is that we are now made in the image of Adam.

Genesis 5:3

And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

We see that when Seth is mentioned, he is described as being made after the image of Adam. In Genesis 5:1, we see that Adam had been made in the image of God. The difference that has happened is that a sin nature has been added to man. This sin nature creates a lot of problems for man, but it is something that can be taken care of.

Does God get angry?

Since man was initially made in the image of God, it makes sense to ask this question. If God never became angry, then it would make sense to say it is wrong for us to be angry at any time. If God does become angry, then we need to have an understanding of what causes this and see if we can learn some things for ourselves from what is recorded.

A careful reading of Scripture does indicate that God does become angry many times. One of the things that makes God angry is idolatry.

Exodus 32:9-10

And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: [10] Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

God is ready to pour out his wrath upon the members of the nation Israel because of their transgression. They had agreed that they would do all that God was going to ask of them (Exodus 19:8), but were already breaking the first thing that God commanded them to do (Exodus 20:2-5) by the fact that they were worshipping the golden calf that had been made. They were worshipping a false god and God was mad that this happened.

Another example of this can be found in Hebrews 3:10-11. God is referring to the fact that there are those that do not know His ways. As a result of this, He is going to keep them from receiving His blessings. He describes this as coming about through His wrath.

With all of the examples that we have looked at related to the anger of God, there is one common theme that can be seen. His anger is always righteous and is aimed at the fact that someone is going against the commands that have been laid out (Romans 1:18).

Jesus Christ in the gospels

By taking a look at what Jesus did during his earthly ministry, we see that He became angry at times. One of the examples of this is when He went into the temple and had the encounter with the moneychangers.

One of the teachings that does cause some conflict is the Sermon on the Mount. In this passage, we see that Jesus does give some clear instructions about anger.

Matthew 5:22

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

The highlighted phrase in this verse is what causes a lot of the problems. In some Bible translations, the three words without a cause are left out. If these words are left out, what happens with Jesus in the previous passage that had been discussed. He would be considered to be a sinner and would need a Saviour as well. The phrase is necessary, because there are causes that should make a person angry (such as Jesus with the moneychangers in Matthew 21:12-13). This does not describe the actions of a person that is not angry. However, there is a cause that He had, as they were defiling the temple and were going against the Word of God. This is why this action can be seen as having a cause and would not go against Matthew 5:22.

There is also one other instance that we can see where Jesus was angry. In Mark 3 we see Christ entering the synagogue. He is going to perform a miracle and the only thing that those who are watching can do is wonder if he is going to heal this man on the Sabbath. In verse 5 we see that Christ looks upon them in anger. This is due to the hardness of their hearts, as He knew that this was not going to change their minds on the fact that He was the Messiah.

How should we handle our anger

This is the real question that we need to answer. We need to figure out the right way that our anger needs to be handled. It is unfortunate that we can all think of examples of where someone did not handle their anger in the proper manner. Therefore, there is no need for us to go into this in detail and will instead focus on the right thing we need to do. One of the key verses that discusses this fact is found in Ephesians 4.

Eph 4:26

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

This verse shows that it is completely normal for us to be angry at times. Many people will tell you that anger is a sin, but this verse does not say that. The verse states that a person needs to make sure that they do not commit a sin while they are angry. Paul states that a believer needs to make sure that they watch their actions. We have already seen earlier that a person cannot commit a sin that would affect their position in Christ, but the sin can affect the rewards that we would receive (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). This is one of the most important reasons that we need to make sure we are watching what we are doing.

An example of when it is not right to be angry is found in the book of Jonah. When we look at chapter 4, we see that Jonah is angry with God (Jonah 4:1). The reason for this is that God had repented (changed his mind) and had spared the city of Nineveh. Because Jonah felt they did not deserve to have forgiveness, he actually wished to die. God demonstrates the reason that He had forgiven them in the rest of the chapter and shows why it was wrong for Jonah to have been mad at God.

We cannot be mad at God due to the fact that it is He who is righteous. It is a standard that we have no way to live up to on our own. We do not have a capacity to be able to say that we are angry with God and to be right about it. The people that we do get angry with are each other due to some things that transpire. It is in these circumstances that we need to learn how to utilize the longsuffering that God calls us to in order to be able to handle the anger that we may have. It is again found in the book of Ephesians what Paul instructs us to do.

Ephesians 4:31-32

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: [32] And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

This same information is also found in Colossians 3:8,13. The motivation that we are to have is that Christ has already forgiven us (Romans 3:25, 2 Corinthians 5:21). Since we already have forgiveness, we should demonstrate this to others. It is the motivation of love that allows us to be able to forgive one another. This is in direct contrast to what Jesus says to Israel with what has been called the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6:9-15). They have to forgive others in order to receive forgiveness. It is a fear motivation that they had. Therefore, we should keep this in mind the next time that someone does something that we perceive to be wrong.

The wrong way is to handle this through trying to pour wrath out on the individual. This is why there are verses such as Galatians 5:20 that put this idea as fulfilling the lust of the flesh and not walking in the Spirit, which is what we have been instructed to do. It is also why Romans 12:19 states that we are not to avenge ourselves. We are not to try to do something to another person based on the fact that we feel they have done something wrong to us that we need to correct. It is with lowliness and meekness that we need to forebear one another in love (Ephesians 4:1-2). This means that we need to put up with other people no matter what things that we perceive they have done wrong to us. This only comes through Christ, who gives us all the strength that we need (Philippians 4:13). Remember, it is one of the qualifications of the bishop that he be not soon angry (Titus 1:7). We are to be able to live peaceably with all men, as much as is possible (Romans 12:18).

It is important for us to note that it is okay for us to be angry at times. The thing that we need to do is to watch the actions that we take when we do get angry. There may not be a better verse to close on this idea than the following verse.

Proverbs 14:29

He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.



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