Likewise, anger is not sinful. But because it is a particularly strong emotion, it can be a motivation for great good or great evil. Anger can be a good thing. There are many examples of God’s anger in the Bible. Jesus got angry with the Pharisees. The Bible never says, “Don’t get angry.” However, it does say, “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down when you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27). The key is that we ought to only get angry for the right reasons: sin, injustice, evil. Most of the time, however, we get angry for selfish reasons: pride, being hurt or wounded, fear, worry and frustration.
The Bible tells us not to hang onto our anger. This is because anger is a breeding ground for sin. It leads us to do things that harm others. It leads us to do things we will regret later. Although anger itself is not a sin, I believe that losing one’s temper is wrong. It means losing control, or to put it another way, it means allowing your anger to control you.
Even righteous anger can lead to sin if we hang on to it too long. Anger is a dangerous thing. And so it is a good idea to either work out our issues with other people right away, or just decide to let it go. Hanging on to anger is like holding a burning ember in your hand. The one holding it is the one who gets burned. Anger eats us up from the inside. It leads to sin. It leads to rebellion. And it destroys relationships with both God and people.
We ought to be slow to become angry because human anger is rarely for the right reasons. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20). True Christian love prevents us from getting angry so quickly. “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not easily angered” (I Corinthians 13:4-5). Let’s be honest. We get angry quickly because of pride and selfishness. When we care about others, their shortcomings, or our own difficulties will not lead us to lash out so quickly.
People who allow their anger to control them are dangerous. “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared” (Proverbs 22:24-25). Sometimes we brag, “You don’t want to make me angry.” Having a reputation for a bad temper is nothing to be proud of. “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins” (Proverbs 29:22).
Instead, we should be known for reacting calmly to all circumstances. Anger and sin easily walk hand in hand. “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8). How interesting it is that most of these things go together. In Christ, we can overcome the sin of a hot temper. “…The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). Let these things, not anger, be what we are known for.