Anger and Christianity – Are They Compatible?

Anger and Christianity – Are They Compatible?

Anger causes many Christians to feel guilt and confusion. Do I sin when I am angry? Shouldn’t Christians not feel anger but always be forgiving – you know, turn the other cheek and all that? Well, let’s look more closely at the emotion of anger, when it is appropriate and when it crosses the line of Be angry and do not sin.”

Anger is just an emotion

Happiness, sadness, joy, frustration, fear, anger – all are just emotions, and emotions by themselves are neither good nor bad – they take on a moral connotation with our motivations and our actions.

Causes of anger

Blocked goals can make us frustrated and angry. This irritation doesn’t have to escalate into a full-blown rage. When you realize that you had a goal and that it wasn’t met look at it in terms of eternity and then see how much it really matters. Placing the goal into perspective is very helpful. Then adjust the goal or your need for it accordingly.

Injustice causes anger and the Lord shows His anger over injustice throughout Scripture. Our hearts are not far from His when they are moved to anger when there is injustice. If I experience anger as I read of a family that has undergone great injustice and harm, that anger would be very much in line with the Lord’s heart.

Disrespect for God should cause righteous anger in us. It would be the same anger Christ showed clearing the temple. The catch here is that we are not pure as He is and, so, it is not always appropriate for us to act as He did. He, being God, knew exactly what to do. We are not God and need to be very careful and prayerful when we move in response to godly anger.

Hurt at times shows itself as anger. You hurt me and now I’m mad at you. If we see that we are angry because we really are hurt, then we can address the hurt and let go of anger before we move to the sin of wanting to hurt the other person in return.

Immaturity often shows itself through anger. If I am not getting what I want when I want it, or you are not doing what I want then just maybe this emotion is based on immature selfishness, self-centeredness, and a false sense of entitlement all of which have nothing to do with being a Christ-follower. This anger is due to sin and falls in the not okay category.

Frustration can take us right into anger. When we are attempting something that is not going as planned, or we are dealing with people who are less than cooperative we can get frustrated. Frustration can lead to anger that lashes out. Not a good thing.

woman holding her head in anger

The example of Christ

In all four Gospels, we find this account of Jesus showing anger. “And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated, and He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables;

Christ showed very definite anger in this situation. Not only that, He acted out that anger in a very big way. Now, we know that Christ lived and never sinned so, this must mean that He did not sin in this display. That means that it is possible to be angry and not sin. Let’s look at how that was possible.

The temple was given by God as a place where every person could come to meet with their Maker. In that place, He had designed a way for them to be forgiven and cleansed so that they could be restored before the Lord. There were sacrifices to be made in different ways and for different offenses. That meant that there was a need for animals to sacrifice and the unscrupulous found a ready market to profit from God’s mercy and grace.

Christ, God in the flesh, was angered by those who would make money off of those coming to Him to sacrifice. Selling the animals was not the problem, as there was a need for them, the problem was that that selling was not doing so because of their love for God but in order to use their devotion to God for their own profit.

The anger Jesus was righteous, justified, and deserved. So, even though He overturned tables and drove them out, God was right in doing so.

The point is that there are times when anger is justified, the right emotion for the moment, and definitely not sin. What we need to do when we need this emotion is to check our motivation, check for blocked goals, hurt, etc, and see whether the Lord would be angry in our situation too. If so, then our anger is not out of place, if not, then we need to get to the root of our problem and ask the Lord to help us with it.

But my anger seems out of control

Sometimes we become so filled with anger that it spills out all over our lives. When that is the case, it is time to seek help. More than likely there are past, unresolved issues that need to be dealt with. You may also need to learn skills in handling emotions and managing life situations.

Anger that is out of control or inappropriate will destroy relationships and devastate your life. If you find that you are angry a lot, and it is affecting your life, then please seek counsel. If you are in the Phoenix area and would like to work with me on this then I would be happy to help you get free. I can also meet with you by phone and by video call.  Just use the contact form to get started.

Additional verses

Proverbs 14:29 He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 19:11 A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

Ephesians 4:26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger

James 1:19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.