Pastor's Corner: Wisely handling anger
Last updated 9/17/2023 at 7:55pm | View PDF
There were once two brothers, one a shepherd and the other a farmer. One day they gave gifts to their father. The shepherd son gave the best sheep of his flock, while the farmer son thoughtlessly gave low-quality vegetables. The father was delighted with the best sheep but was displeased with the poor produce. The farmer’s son was very angry at his brother for one-upping his gift. These feelings boiled over into rage, and one day the angry son murdered his brother! This is a retelling of Cain’s anger and murder of Abel (Genesis 4:1-8). It shows one of the most powerful and potentially destructive emotions with its consequences: sinful anger.
Anger is a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility brought on by frustrations or annoyances. Someone wrongs you? Now you are angry. The Bible has much wise counsel for those prone to anger and controlling it. ”Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9. The wise Christian knows how to control and calm anger and to make peace by righteous methods.
Anger is a powerful force, an intense emotion that can suddenly erupt (Proverbs 27:4a; Galatians 5:20; Ephesians 4:31). Learning how to control and calm anger wisely by God’s Word is immeasurably valuable. Knowing the consequences of anger also helps the wise Christian control or avoid anger and make peace with others (Proverbs 14:17). Anger will lead you to play the fool as your angry actions will bring shame and regret later (15:18). Anger will stir up more conflict, and it is not wise to associate with the chronically angry (22:24). Every person who expresses sinful anger says harmful words and does harmful actions. The wise Christian seeks to avoid these consequences.
There is such a thing as righteous anger. Jesus was angry at the corrupt money changers and drove them out of the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). Righteous anger is against specific sin that can be supported by Scripture (Exodus 20:1-17). The methods you use to express your anger must be righteous. Vengeance, reprisals, harsh words, and evil actions because one has been wronged by another sinner are not righteous (Galatians 5:19-21). Christians first appeal to God concerning wrongs suffered (Romans 12:19-21). Christians seek to quell anger in his or her own heart by love, forgiveness, or personally making peace (Matthew 5:9; Ephesians 4:32). Christians should appeal to the proper authorities (police, courts, authorities; Romans 13:1-7).
Peace is a great reward to someone who learns to control their temper and is slow to anger (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18; James 3:18). Sinful anger will only cause destruction, therefore the one who controls anger effectively is more likely to have a constructive and successful life (Proverbs 15:18; 16:32a; 19:11; James 1:19). Even if there is a reason for righteous anger, the grace of Christ shines in the life of the Christian who wisely overlooks and forgives an offense quickly (Proverbs 19:11). The reward for letting anger go is a greater testimony to others for Christ, rather than winning every battle and receiving recompense from every wrong suffered. The wise Christian understands anger, controls it, calms it and seeks reap the rewards of peace (Matthew 5:21-26).
”Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." James 1:19b-20.