I am not an angry person. I enjoy life, love to have fun, work to serve others, and love my Savior Lord. But, sometimes when I don’t get what I want or my expectations aren’t being fulfilled, frustrations begin to rise within my heart. Sometimes, I find myself barreling through life like a freight train, running on self-reliant fumes. My train sputters out quickly though. I can’t make it on my own…even if I think I can have it my way. Getting angry over circumstances isn’t God-glorifying. Lord, help me to want life you’re way instead of becoming easily frustrated when things don’t go my way.
Emotions are a funny thing. God created us as physical, spiritual, and emotional beings. He wants us to FEEL. However, just as our bodies are physically and spiritually under the curse, our emotions are as well. The feeling of anger for injustice is a very godly response. But, 99.9% of the time our anger does not glorify God, but turns inward…our justification, our desires. Below is an outline to better understand anger.
Types of Anger—Three Biblical Variants
Divine Anger—this anger is God’s wrath exercised on the behalf of and toward His people for His glory. It is terrible, but just. His wrath was poured out on Jesus on the cross. The Day of the Lord will be the culmination of His wrath when He destroys enemies forever.
Righteous Human Anger—this anger is very rare, but is (1) a reaction against something truly wicked, (2) focuses on God’s kingdom and rights, not one’s own rights, (3) and is accompanied by other godly qualities, such as love.
Sinful Anger—this is common human anger that is a whole person response arising from a negative moral judgment, against a perceived evil. Sinful anger comes in a variety of forms (see below). As image-bearers of God, humans are born with the nature of anger or are “wired for it.” God is a moral, ethical being who hates evil and judges it; likewise, we make judgments, but we are sinful. Anger motivates us to act.
Symptoms of Anger
Basic Cognitive and Physical Symptoms: Anger affects the body more than any emotions. Hostility is the key predictive factor in Type A people who have heart attacks. People with hostility die sooner and it is one of the most destructive forces in families and countries.
Overpowering anger is usually accompanied by symptoms such as feeling hot and flushed, hairs standing up, becoming hyperactive, a racing heartbeat, sudden tension in your arms, neck or shoulders, or the onset of a headache. You suddenly see the world as a hostile place, maliciously unfair. Your focus narrows to the problem at hand. Your working memory tends to decrease, making you lose sight of the immediate past. Your common sense in the prefrontal regions becomes stilled, blinding your basic judgment.
Varieties of Anger
Anger comes in a variety of forms: (1) Concealed or Icy. (2) Revealed or Explode.
Anger can cause a person to be distant, irritated, frustrated, critical attitude, bitter, resentment, hostile, malicious, hate, contempt, violence. Anger is not only words, but body language and tone.
Some interesting stats:
One in three marriages reports a violent act of anger.
Severe violence is a chronic feature reported in 13% of marriages.
50% of women homicides are committed by spouse or boyfriend (or ex spouse/boyfriend).
Only 6% of male homicides are committed by spouse or girlfriend.
Women and men can be very violent toward children (i.e., abuse, abortion).
Five Key Bible Passages:
Ephesians 4:26-32—Anger gives Satan a foothold; do not let sun go down on anger because it causes bitterness. We should treat others with forgiveness.“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold."
Righteous Human Anger—Ex. 32:19-20; 1 Sam. 11; 1 Sam. 20; Psalm 119. "I hate double-minded men, but I love your law. You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word" (Ps. 119:113-14). "When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it" (Ex. 20:19-20).
Hebrews 12:1-15—Bitter roots grow when not rightly focusing on the sufferings of Christ and God’s forgiveness of our own evil actions. "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
James 4:1-10—Our anger is spawned from our desires that rage within us. "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
Proverbs 14:30; 12:18; 16:18; 27:5-6—Words are very powerful and we need to heed God’s warning to watch what we say. "Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses."
Five Theological Insights Practically Applied:
Jesus did not retaliate with he was sinned against (1 Peter 2:23; Phil 2:3-8; Heb. 12).
It is easier to focus on our rights, but we must battle to die to self and allow God to pronounce the judgment of evil actions (Obviously use law when needed) (Mark 12:29-30; 1 Tim. 4:7; Luke 14:27; Heb. 10:30).
Anger is harmful to our relationship with God, others, and self (Prov. 15:1; Prov. 20:2; Prov. 22:24; Prov. 29:11; Prov. 30:33; 1 Cor. 13; Eph. 4:26-32).
Sinful anger can be given over to and changed by God (Prov. 29:8; Eph. 4; Col. 3; James 4:1-10).
Though we tend to assume the best of ourselves, the Bible warns against self-deception (2 Cor. 11:3; Gal. 6:7; Jer. 10:9; Titus 3:3; Heb. 3:12-13).
May God take the fumes of frustration from us and make us like Him: peaceable, quick to forgive, and slow to anger. Help me God to express emotion Your way, and not my own!