The question is one often heard in arguments, or right before an argument breaks out. It’s even used in television, usually as a characters breaking point. Discovering why someone is angry, why you’re angry can be challenging. So let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about anger, and where it derives from.
Is it ok to be angry?
Why of course it is! Many people think that being angry is wrong. But it’s not the anger that is wrong, it’s letting the anger fester that’s wrong. Often the Bible reminds us to be slow to anger, or to overlook an offense. But what if you don’t? What if you become angry? There’s a solution, don’t worry. God knew we’d get angry, because we are His children and He becomes angry sometimes too. So let’s take a look first, at what anger really is.
Anger: a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonismMeriam Webster Dictionary
Alright, anger is a strong feeling of displeasure (displease) and antagonism, so let’s see the definition to these words to so that we can get a better understanding.
Displease: to incur the disapproval or dislike of especially by annoyingMeriam Webster Dictionary
Antagonism: opposition of a conflicting force, tendency, or principle; actively expressed opposition or hostilityMeriam Webster Dictionary
So, a person is angry when there’s a strong feeling of displeasure, or disapproval or dislike, and when there’s opposition. For our understanding: people become indignant when something displeases them because someone disapproves or dislikes them or are hostile towards them. Which, if you think about it means the exact same thing… the very root of anger is opposition. Because disliking something and disapproving something means you don’t agree with it, you oppose it.
When someone disagrees with you, it can spark a fire. You’ve heard the saying, ‘agree to disagree’ right? Why do you think that saying surfaced? Because people weren’t able to agree that there’s two sides to every coin, which is the problem with the world today. Everyone has an opinion and everyone’s opinion has to be seen as ‘right’. And if you disagree with the trending opinion, or OPPOSE the trending opinion, you’re canceled. Isn’t that odd? The whole world is ruled by opposition? Not at all, considering evilness was born because of opposition.
That’s right, Satan, was prideful and wanted to rule instead of God. So, he opposed God in his heart. And that’s where it matters most, in the heart. Anger in the heart is dangerous, because our heart is who we are. And if anger is there, festering in our heart, then we are angry people.
So, is it really ok to be angry?
After reading the previous paragraph, you might be wondering if it’s ok to be angry, but my answer remains the same… yes! You can get angry, but you absolutely cannot stay angry.
Well what is the righteousness that God desires? Love! God desires us to live in love because He is love. If you are abiding in God, that means you are abiding in love. And love is many things. It’s kind, it’s patient, and above all, it is not easily angered. Let’s take a look at that scripture:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor 13:4-7 (NIV)
We see that love is patient and it is not easily angered. Yes, there are things that make us angry, but we must be slow to anger, and we must exhibit patience with the things that anger us or oppose us. In Proverbs 22:24, we are instructed to avoid associating with people who are hot tempered or so easily angered. And that’s because, a person easily angered is a selfish person. They cannot be opposed, or it’ll make them angry. But what is at the root of opposition? Why does opposition make us angry? Why does it cause us to argue with others? Because the Bible tells us there’s actually a battle with desire going on when we are angry.
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.James 4:1-2
We are angry when we are opposed, which means when our desires don’t align with the desires of others, conflict erupts. And we know that a desire is something we feel very strongly for (Meriam Webster Dictionary), so if we feel very passionately about butter on toast, but our colleague leans more towards toast with jelly or jam, we now have a conflict. We now have opposing views which can result in anger. So, it’s vital to operate in love and be slow to anger because when we are angry, we are not exhibiting the righteousness of God, which is love. And if you don’t exhibit love, then you have nothing (1 Cor 13:3).
Final question: Why is love so important and how do we get it?
Love is so important because it is the direct opposite to anger. Anger is a strong feeling of displeasure, but love is a strong affection (a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something : tender attachment [Merriam Webster Dictionary]). As God is good and God is love, Satan is evil and is angry. Satan opposes God, so he operates out of anger and selfishness. Whereas God, our loving Father, gave us Jesus, our sweet Savior, so that we can abide in Him, in love.
But how do we get love? How do we become patient and slow to anger? Through the precious gift of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who produces fruit in us. His fruits are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). Each of these fruit combat anger, and provides us a way to accept opposition. If we do not have the Holy Spirit, we cannot practice love, and that means we are not exhibiting God’s righteousness. But it all leads into each other. If we do not exhibit God’s righteousness, then we are not being patient, because love is patient. We are not practicing self-control because love is not self seeking. We are not practicing anything encompassed by love, and ultimately, we are not letting the light of Christ shine through us.
Since we understand anger…
Now, we choose love. We practice walking in the Spirit of God, choosing to be kind, and to be good to people. As things in this world may anger us, we must not let it fester or grow into unrighteousness. If we rely on the Holy Spirit, we can accomplish this. We know that Jesus’ sacrifice gave us entry to God’s throne, and released the gift of the Holy Spirit. God is there for us everyday to help us in our walk through the Holy Spirit, and it’s our job to be intentional about walking in the Spirit.
So let’s take time every morning to welcome the Holy Spirit into our day so that we can exhibit the righteousness of God.