What Does the Bible Say About Anger?

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Anger is a Biblical principle, isn’t it? Anger is not only discussed at length in the Bible, but righteous anger is demonstrated by Jesus Himself. As we pursue becoming mature in the faith, it’s necessary to consider what place anger holds in our lives. In this broken world, it is natural to feel angry, bitter, and resentful. But is this considered Godliness? Oftentimes, no. But let’s take a brief look at what the Bible has to say about anger.

What is Unrighteous Anger in the Bible?

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19).

It is no secret that the Bible warns about anger. To walk in Godliness, it is essential to understand what kind of anger we should have and what kind of anger we shouldn’t have. Let’s compile some characteristics, according to what the Bible says, about ungodly anger. 

King Solomon warns that “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29). There are many instances in which Solomon writes about the nature of a foolish man. Here, he explains that those who are quick to become angry are foolish. 

This is similar to what he writes in Proverbs 15:18, “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” Again in Ecclesiastes 7:9, Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.” Another time Soloman writes, “A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated” (Proverbs 14:17)

Not only does Solomon warn about being quick to anger, but even making friends with those who are quick to anger, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man” (Proverbs 22:24).

Solomon is not the only one who cautions against anger. Jesus Himself says in Matthew 5:22, But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

These are just a few verses that caution against unrighteous anger. Based on these verses, we find that ungodly anger is anger that:

  • Stirs up needless conflict
  • Causes a person to act foolishly or, at least, appear foolish
  • Does not make a good friend
  • Is punished, through both or either earthly consequences and eternal consequences

Now that we have established what unrighteous anger looks like, let’s take a look at righteous anger.

What is Righteous Anger in the Bible?

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8).

In truth, there is a lot of anger in the Bible. We see the anger of God the Father displayed throughout the Old Testament in places like:

In each of these instances, the Lord’s anger is directed towards those who either harm His people or are unfaithful and disobedient to Him, though He often relents. 

However, the Psalms specifically describe God’s anger. In Psalm 30:5, David writes “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” 

Why does God’s anger last “only for a moment?” Perhaps, this is because at the very core of His nature, God is not a god of anger, but of mercy. Ultimately, the blood of Jesus makes a way for God to forgive His people of their sins against Him. 

In each case, God the Father demonstrates righteous anger. In most cases, He relents His anger before acting upon it. Later in Psalm 78:38, the Psalmist refers to God, “Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.”

According to the Bible, Jesus, being both fully God and fully Man, had righteous anger over the sins of the people, such as in Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 3:1-5, and Luke 19:41-44

There are many takeaways modern-day Christians can learn from these examples of righteous anger in the Bible, such as:

  • Rarely is action taken as a result of righteous anger
  • Godly anger is always directed toward what would anger God Himself, like child abuse
  • Righteous anger is never self-interested

Biblical Verses About Revenge and Suffering 

In Ephesians 4:26, Paul writes a holistic approach to how to be angry: Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

As much as we would all prefer to have righteous anger, oftentimes we find ourselves feeling angry that is not righteous. Whether we have been wronged, betrayed, or someone said a harsh word, how should we handle our anger? 

The Bible offers all Christians peace about this. No matter how much our anger is out of justice, Paul reminds us that ultimately, it is not our role to be the one to deliver justice. Paul writes, 

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”(Romans 12:19–21). 

Paul understands that we do not need to be angry because God will be the final and good Judge. Instead, we can love our enemies and have compassion because our salvation is secure when there may not be. He points out that we as followers of Christ are called to care for them and not to fall into evil because of them. 

This may be easier said than done. Peter also writes about how Christians should respond by controlling their anger. He goes into more detail on the attitude of Christians toward those who have wronged them.

But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:14–17).

Peter encourages the early church to recognize that even when they suffer, we should consider it a blessing because Christians live for Christ and not for men. 

Applying Biblical Wisdom to Anger Management

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32). 

But it is not that easy, is it? How can we as Christ-followers begin to live out our faith by being slow to anger and abounding in love? Here are a few practical steps to release anger

1. Come to the Father in prayer

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” (1 Timothy 2:8).

2. Seek reconciliation and forgiveness rather than harboring anger.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13).

3. Cultivate a spirit of love toward others in the hope that because of your love, they will see Christ

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

Grow with ORBC

We believe there is hope for even the worst of sinners. No matter where you are on your path from anger to love, we desire to be a part of your journey. 

If you are struggling with anger and need prayer, don’t hesitate to submit a prayer request. We would love to pray for you and encourage you through whatever season you might find yourself in.

Interested in getting connected at Oak Ridge Baptist Church? Contact us for more information and how to take the next step.

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