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Looking for verses about anger in the Bible? Anger is a common human emotion, and no person is immune from feeling provoked to antagonism towards someone or something you feel has done you wrong. In and of itself, anger is not a bad emotion, but it requires a great amount of self-control to feel angry and then not respond sinfully.In the Bible, God experiences what is known as “righteous anger,” directed towards ungodly people or activities, and the example of Jesus overturning tables that were being used for commercial purposes in the temple illustrates this anger.
Christians should be angered by evils in the world, and act against them (for example William Wilberforce’s fight against slavery); but all too often the anger we are acting out against concerns our own need to be right, rather than righteous. If you are feeling convicted about your anger issues, here are eight verses about anger in the Bible to reflect on:
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. – Ephesians 4:26-27
This verse unpacks much of how God feels about anger. First, is the command to not sin when angry, which is so contrary to how the flesh naturally responds that it seems like an almost impossible directive. When a person or situation provokes anger; the Bible makes it clear that shouting or responding aggressively (even passive-aggressively) is not an acceptable response.
God’s word also tells us to not stew in our anger but to somehow resolve our feelings before the day is done. The second half of the verse says that we should not allow the devil a foothold; so clearly when we allow ourselves to remain angry for an extended time, we open ourselves up to an attack from the devil.
As we struggle to control bouts of anger, employing the wisdom contained in this verse from Ephesians could go a long way towards curbing the destructive elements of anger.
Anger in the Bible is described here in the book of James as not producing the righteousness that God desires. God is aware that, as humans living in a fallen world, our anger is very seldom righteous anger that works to resolve an issue.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. – James 1:19-20
Our anger, rather, detracts from our sanctification and makes us less like Jesus. For this reason, we need to take every precaution to be slow to anger, praying for the fruit of the Spirit to give us the self-control we need to habitually do this.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1
Too often we respond harshly in situations where a gentle answer to someone would diffuse tension. In this verse about anger, we see that a harsh word does the very opposite – it charges anger up and tempers flare.
The focus in the book of Proverbs is wisdom, which, in essence, is a choice reflected in a person’s basic approach to life. The wise person chooses to live according to godly principles and would make every effort to be a peacemaker, which comes from the daily decision to nurture and develop patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control (with the Lord’s help).
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. – Psalm 86:15
It makes sense that we are instructed to be slow to anger if this is the character of God. This expression, “slow to anger” in the Bible appears at least ten times in the Old Testament (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 86:15, Psalm 103:8, Psalm 145:8, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2, Nahum 1:3) and reveals God’s consistent nature in various contexts. He is not slow to anger with certain people or specific circumstances only, but his patience pervades every aspect of his being.
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man. – Proverbs 22:24
The counsel given in Proverbs is to avoid a close connection with a person who is given to fits of passion. If we find ourselves venting our frustration and anger easily, we should see if this is a problem that affects our friends too. Anger in the Bible is seen as contagious, and we should avoid friendships where sinful acting out of anger is the norm.
“Fits of rage” is included in this list of the acts of the flesh given by the apostle Paul in the book of Galatians. God’s Spirit gives believers the supernatural ability to love as Christ does, instead of serving themselves, but as long as we are on this side of heaven there will always be the battle to shut down the Spirit and go our own way.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21
With anger firmly planted on the list, there is the stern reminder that, if we persist in this sinful kind of lifestyle, it may be that we are not part of God’s kingdom at all. God takes our anger seriously, and so should we.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. – James 4:1-2
This verse in James gets to the heart of where our anger comes from. Too often we think other people’s actions and words are what cause us to get angry; instead, God’s Word points to our desires being the motivation behind our quarrels and fights.
Our desires battle within us, and when a person intervenes in some way and becomes an obstruction in our path to those desires, we get angry. Acknowledging this explanation of anger in the Bible can be the first step towards confessing our sin and moving forwards towards being more focused on what is happening internally rather than externally.
Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. – Galatians 16:32
By comparing being able to overcome our fleshly desires with obtaining victory over an enemy, this verse, essentially on anger in the Bible, shows just how difficult the task can be. It is better and requires more steady management, to be patient, than it does to overtake a city. Overcoming anger issues is not something then that can be achieved in our own strength but takes prayer and God’s help.
The goal of our Christian lives is not to eliminate anger. It is rather to, ideally, to display the right kind of anger (righteous anger) and, when annoyed and frustrated, to express our legitimate feelings in a constructive, godly way.
This is not always easy, especially when relationships or situations are fraught and carry baggage. Sometimes, the intervention of a trained Biblical counselor can be highly valuable in walking the road with you towards freedom from out-of-control anger, which steals your ability to live in joy and in line with God’s commands.
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