Carola is a Christian writer and author of several books. She writes about Christian living, relationships, and other related topics.
Some people have the mistaken idea that Christians are supposed to be like human smiley faces and never get angry. The truth is that even Jesus got mad on occasion (Matthew 23:13-26, John 2:13-17). What makes Christians different is how they handle their anger.
We live in an angry world. People fume when someone cuts them off on the road, barges into a line, or makes them wait for services. In the same way, some of us are walking around like powder kegs waiting to blow. We do not always understand why we are so angry or how to deal with our feelings.
Is Anger Wrong?
Being angry is a natural response to certain situations and is not a sin in itself. Anger is like a robot waving his arms and telling us, "Danger, Will Robinson." It alerts us when injustice has occurred, our rights have been violated, or our feelings have been hurt. We often respond with two extremes: clamming up or venting our rage. Neither one is a good idea.
Extreme anger is bad for our health. Scientists say that it is related to the development of heart disease. Sadly, the time and energy that goes into raging could have been spent on more productive and healthier pursuits. Instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, we are hostile to those around us and feel miserable. Stuffing our anger down will not help us in the long run, either.
Unaddressed anger is not something we can contain. It is like trying to put a lid on a volcano. The lava of anger will find a way to force itself out, and when it does, it will destroy everything in its path - family and marriage relationships, friendships, and our workplaces.
Myths About Anger
Some of us believe myths about anger that can potentially be harmful such as:
- If I don’t appear angry, I don’t have a problem
- If I ignore resentments and hurts, they will go away and not trouble me again
- If I vent all my rage, my anger problems will be solved
- There is no emotional cost involved in suppressing my anger
- I can become a nice person who does not get mad at anyone
- I will damage my relationship with a person if I express how much they hurt me
We can’t resolve our anger if we are unwilling to deal with it. Anger must be faced and processed before it can dissipate.
Anger Can Be Dangerous
Anger can lead us to sin and give the devil a foothold in our lives. Our fury may provoke us to take revenge, be cruel to others (Proverbs 27:4), or do other types of harm. Venting all of our anger is a foolish thing to do (Proverbs 29:11) and will stir up strife (Proverbs 30:33).
In the book Letting Go of Anger, author Annie Chapman says that we can be "angry and yet not be sinning." Rage must be kept under control because it does not lead to the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20). One of the fruits of the spirit, self-control, will help us to manage our emotions. We cannot let the sun go down while we are still angry. Doing so will give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:26-27).
How We Can Manage Our Anger
The challenge for Christians is the admonition not to allow the sun to go down on our wrath and do not sin (Ephesians 4:26). This does not mean that if we are offended in the morning, we have permission to stew all day. It means we need to put a lid on our anger as soon as we can. In some situations, it seems like an impossible task. The only way we can truly let go is to forgive the person who angered us.
We can pray for people who are infuriating and ask God for the help we need to manage our feelings. Jesus taught that we should love our enemies and pray for them (Matthew 5:42-44).
Calming Down And Waiting
We need to de-escalate our turbulent emotions. Counting to a 100 may help. We need to wait until we are calm and carefully consider how we answer if an answer is required (Proverbs 15:28). Responding to nasty emails can be put off. In the meantime, we can decompress ourselves by taking a walk, exercising, taking a hot bath, or talking to someone we can trust about the situation.
In the book The Heart of Anger, authors Christopher Ash and Steve Midgley say that anger is like: "a drawn sword that leaves a world strewn with casualties." We must be careful how we handle it.
Some people are foolish and are not worth our time and attention (Proverbs 26:4). They cannot control their tongues, and some like to argue. Fools will hurt and destroy us if we let them. In our interpersonal relationships, we need to either be quiet or give a soft answer that will not escalate the situation (Proverbs 15:1).
Holding back takes self-control. Being slow to anger and ruling our spirits is better than being mighty or a conqueror of a city (Proverbs 16:32). If we need to confront someone who made us angry, we should be logical and not emotional so we do not hurt the individual.
Decide If Anger Is The Right Response
Sometimes we are too thin-skinned and easily offended by silly or obnoxious people. Many situations are not worth getting upset about. We benefit from being slow to anger and overlooking an offense (Proverbs 19:11).
Identify The Underlying Issues
Decide what the underlying issues are and take appropriate action. Different circumstances call for different solutions. We should seek wise counsel from others. However, we should be careful not to use people to vent a rage that will escalate.
Deal With Righteous Indignation
Injustice is absolutely infuriating, no doubt about that. Many situations are unfair and we have the right to be angry about them. We often must decide what to do about them. Each situation is unique. It is unjust that someone cut us off in traffic, but there is nothing we can do about that. If someone defrauds or steals from us, however, further action may be needed. Crimes should be reported, and charges laid in some cases to protect others.
Reconcile with People Who Angered Us
The people in our lives can drive us up the wall and fill us with anger. Jesus encourages us to reconcile with our brothers before making offerings to God (Matthew 5:23-24). Offenses that are left to fester will destroy our relationships. We can become more unyielding than a fortified city if we allow bitterness to grow (Proverbs 18-19).
Reconciliation does not mean that we become buddy-buddy with people who offended us and destroyed our trust. We may need to exercise caution around them or avoid them if they are triggers for our anger. Sometimes, they caused deep hurts that were not easy to heal. Some wounds need work such as a Christian recovery program or counseling.
End Relationships That are Toxic
Some people continually cross our boundaries, violate our trust, or are emotionally abusive. We may need to separate ourselves for a time or forever to protect ourselves from harm and save our sanity.
While it is OK to be angry in some situations, sustained anger can be destructive and lead us to sin. Let’s be slow to become angry and think more than twice before we act on it.
Dealing with Anger...God's Way, Joyce Meyer Ministries, Joyce Meyer
What Our Anger Is Telling Us, desiringgod.org, Jonathan Parnell
Anger Management: 5 Quick Tips From Qualified Counselors, Kegan Mosier
How Can I Be 'Slow to Anger' in Today's World? Crosswalk.com, Janet Thompson
© 2013 Carola Finch
Robert E Smith from Rochester, New York on March 13, 2014:
When a person stuffs their anger, they are burying it in a false facade. They are holding it down in their own strength and we are built to do that. If we pass the anger through a mixture of Bible verse and prayer, most of the anger will pass into non-existence simply by pulling God into the situation. Those things that do not go away melt in the love of Christ and in the waiting room of time that God allows in our lives from time to time. The flesh will not let go easily though. We love to feel righteous. Anger fits our flesh. So we have to be honest and deal with things as they come in order to not be handicapped by an emotion that, in itself, is not evil. Great article.
Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 05, 2013:
Thank you for your comments, everyone.
RTalloni on November 05, 2013:
Because of our human condition a study in how to respond to angry feelings is imperative for Christians and you offer some excellent points here.
Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 05, 2013:
Thank you for your comments.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 05, 2013:
"Sustained anger" is the brute. You give good advice about handling the anger in a way that becomes a follower of Christ. Thank you.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 04, 2013:
Managing Anger in a Christian Way an interesting outlook on this side of Christianity you have mentioned very useful points here. It is normal for anyone to get angry at certain situations but he way one deals with the situation is another part of their angry mood.