When is it okay to be angry? Growing up I was always told: ‘Don’t be angry!’. I kind of thought the person telling me was a hypocrite because he was usually angry. Not just when he was telling me not to be angry, but most of the time he was just angry. Other people told me not to be angry too. They weren’t always angry though.
But isn’t anger a natural emotion? Yep, it is. What’s even more amazing is how many times in the Bible it mentions God being angry. Or God’s wrath. So here’s the dilemma… I’m told: don’t be angry. I’m also told: you need to become more like Christ/God. Soooo, if God gets angry, and I am to be more like Him, why can’t I get angry sometimes too?
I know, I know, there are other aspects of Christ that I am to aspire to becoming more like. You know: loving, kind, holy, joyful… And about a hundred more. But what I am thinking on right now is this one: angry.
Anger is mentioned 229 times in the Bible
Angry is mentioned 43 times in the Bible
Wrath is mentioned 197 times in the Bible
There’s quite a bit of anger going on, don’t you think?
When you get right down to it, it isn’t anger that is ‘bad’, it’s what you do with it. Even then: check out what God did with His anger: pretty much just read the book of Exodus and you will be amazed at how angry God can be and what He threatens to do. Most of the time He is talked out of whatever He says He will do, but sometimes He does follow through on it.
But God is God and He can do whatever He wants. I get it. But what about me? Can I get angry? And if so, what can I ‘do’ with it?
Yep, I can get angry: Ephesians 4:26a Be angry
I can’t do a whole lot with it: Ephesians 4:26b And sin not
And whatever I am going to do, I need to do it quickly: Ephesians 4:26c Let not the sun go down on your wrath
So we can get angry, we can’t sin because of it, and we need to be done with it before the sun sets. Now how do we handle it, because let’s face it we all get angry whether or not we want to admit to it.
First off – the obvious: no hitting, kicking, killing, raping, … no sinning. We are all adults here, we know what sin is.
Second – When you are angry teach yourself to stop. Just stop.
Ask yourself: Does this (whatever you are angry about) really matter?
Will it matter in 5 years?
No? Then don’t do anything. Just let it go. Remind yourself it’s no big deal. Then move on.
Yes? Then wait. Don’t do anything until the anger settles and you can think rationally. Once you can think clearly – then decide what to do about whatever made you angry. God (once again, our example) didn’t act hastily. Look at how long it took Noah to build the ark. God took a long time to think about what He was going to do, and He had plenty of time to change His mind. Look at Sodom and Gomorrah. Again God didn’t decide today he was going to kill everyone and then the next minute everyone was dead. He took time to think about it. He talked to Abraham about it. He changed His original plan (and didn’t kill everyone – just most of them).
Anger isn’t bad. Anger on its own isn’t sin. It’s what we do with our anger that can be sin. Take a minute (or several hours) and look up anger in the Bible, study how it is to be handled. Look at how God handled it (time/counsel), and start applying those ways to your own life.
Stop feeling guilty about getting angry. Continue to call your actions sin (when you sin because of anger), and ask God’s forgiveness for that sin. Be angry – and sin not.