“…Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”
Some of the best advice for married couples is given above. Resolve an issue and your angry emotions before nodding off for a good night’s sleep. However, oftentimes heeding that advice is as easy as licking your elbow.
Being a believer, I admit my bias. I don’t think one can resolve one’s anger issues, occasional inappropriate outbursts, or angry passive aggressiveness without the lens of Scripture and a proper theology.
Most don’t like to think of anger when thinking of the characteristics of God. Loving, gracious, kind, sacrificial, and benevolent traits are preferable.
However, if we recognize Him as Just and Holy, despising sin with a dreadful disdain, it’s only rational and truthful to observe His anger and identify it as such. Even the sacrifice of Jesus was a propitiation for sin…propitiation being the satisfaction of God’s wrath for the sin of the world.
Jesus Himself displayed anger when facing criticism and judgement due to His desire to heal a man on the Sabbath. He was dismayed that the Pharisees had conjured up rules to prevent such goodness from being extended on a particular day. Their hard hearts made Him angry. He healed the man with
the withered hand anyway (Mark 3:4-6).
You might say that Jesus became vehemently angry when He drove out those who were buying and selling in the temple, utilizing a scourge of cords. He overturned tables and poured out the coins of the money changers (John 2:13-16).
Above is the example most dubbed “righteous anger.” That is, anger expressed due to evil; anger that can be constructive if properly displayed, interpreted, and channeled. In this case, it was anger expressed to put a stop to greediness running rampant in a sacred place.
We’ve learned that we’re made in God’s image. Does that mean human anger is natural or sacred and can be constructive as well?
Human Fraility: Anger in the Family
Big problem. We’re fallen in our human nature, depraved due to our sin, so our displays of anger are rarely constructive, righteous, or well-channeled. So much destruction occurs in families due to rage, but also due to angry passive aggressiveness.
The Bible shows the folly of those who express human anger.
Fools give full vent to their rage,
but the wise bring calm in the end.
You’d also be better off hanging out with some laid-back buddies rather than hotheads.
Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
do not associate with one easily angered.
God expects far better out of us. Slow down, swallow the ego (sin of pride), listen, think, and act wisely.
James 1: 19
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
Hope For Our Emotional State
So what is our hope in our humanness? Ephesians 4 shows that we can have anger yet refrain from folly. Note it and remember it: “In your anger, DO NOT SIN.” Here is where godly wisdom kicks in to high gear.
26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. … 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Paul conveys that we can be angry without it being sinful by using godly wisdom. However, this shouldn’t be confused with Paul encouraging believers to often and intentionally go about showing righteous anger. That would hardly be a good testimony or reputation to develop either.
After all, we are to focus upon: … whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8).
Anger at Societal Sin
As a believer, it’s difficult to remain calm at the state of affairs of modern civilization. Morality has declined, yet immoral leaders, teachers, and followers make irrational, absurd, and untruthful claims, often in their false denunciation of Christianity, or in their proclamations of what is right and wrong.
We must denounce and judge false statements and behaviors (judge sin and judge it again), yet our response to people must be gentle, kind, and loving. Though God gives us parameters to use anger without sinning as we reflect His image, we must leave the judgement of people due to their sin in His Hands. For He’s a righteous judge and can apply angry responses appropriately.
God is a righteous judge,
a God who displays his wrath every day.
We must leave it up to Him.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Why the Prevalence of Anger out There?
A lack of godly purpose will lead people on an empty search for meaning, which can eventually lead to unfulfilled purpose, frustration, and unresolved or explosive anger.
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.
The most devout Christians will have occasions where unresolved issues or new circumstances cause them to act out of character. Ask God what is causing your anger. Then give these burdens to Christ so you press on honorably in your family, workplace, and community.
Do you want to prevent or alleviate anger, bitterness, strife, and discontentment for yourself and your family?
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken (Psalm55:22).