Help Me Understand: Anger

  • Help Me Understand: Anger
Help Me Understand: Anger

I don't think it's too much to expect people to treat me fairly and give me what I need. So why do people keep treating me poorly?

Sometimes I feel depressed and impatient when I'm not respected. Like when I have to wait for people or when our plans change at the last minute—but who wouldn't? It's just impolite to treat me like that.

Also it's frustrating when less qualified people are given responsibilities that I deserve and then expect me to go along with it. I don't think so! It's insulting and people need to know they've wronged me.

Besides, even Jesus was angry sometimes so I don't see what the big deal is. It's not like I actually hurt anyone and I certainly don't yell and scream...I just make sure people know when they've upset me.


Anger is a powerful God-given emotional response of displeasure. By itself it is neither right nor wrong. The problem we have with anger is the motivation behind it, how we express it, and how we direct it. These determine whether our anger is right or wrong.

Motives—Anger is sinful when it arises from impure motives such as jealousy, selfishness, and impatience.

Expression—Anger is sinful when we express it in destructive, often explosive, out-of-control ways using actions or words that hurt and tear down.

Direction—Anger is sinful when it is aimed at things or people instead of the problems. Conversely, when anger is directed internally and we choose to suppress and internalize it, that too is wrong, becoming destructive and unhealthy for us.

Good (righteous) anger is motivated by hatred of evil and injustice and is expressed in a controlled way with measured action. It provides the impetus to correct wrongs and promote right.


God's Word speaks about our anger to correct our sinful tendencies and promote righteous ones:

Motives—We are told to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” (Philippians 2:3 NIV). Nor to be motivated by vengeance, The Lord tells us, “Do not take revenge; I will repay” (Romans 12:17-19).

Expression—Because anger is such a powerful emotion we can easily lose control of it. God's Word warns us then, “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26-27).

Direction—If left unresolved or turned inward anger can be toxic to our spiritual health. So the Lord tells us to not allow anger to turn into resentment or bitterness (Hebrews 12:14-15). And in order to not create angry children parents are told, “Fathers do not exasperate your children” (Ephesians 6:1-4).


  1. Be wary of angry people. “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared” (Proverbs 22:24-25; cf. 26:21; 29:22).
  2. Control your tongue by the Spirit of God. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Yielding control of your tongue to the Spirit is the only way to experience the fruit of gentleness (cf. Galatians 5:22, 23).
  3. Don't let anger build up. Set a time limit on how long you will dwell on a problem. “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27; cf. Proverbs 27:4-6).
  4. Overlook minor disagreements. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32; cf. Proverbs 17:14; 19:11).
  5. Confess sinful anger to God. Ask Him and those you were sinfully angry with to forgive you. Learn new ways to solve the issues that gave rise to the sinful anger.