Anger

For whatever reason, I’m routinely asked about anger and whether it is sinful or not.  I suspect this question comes up often because it is something most of us struggle with.  Most of us have tempers.  Some are quick and hot, others are slow and steady.  But most of us can recall blowing our top or getting angry at one point or another.

The assumption by most is that anger is wrong and sinful.  The way I try to answer is that yes, by and large, I think that anger is most often – the majority of the time – wrong and sinful.  Or more accurately, almost all the time, anger becomes wrong and sinful.  We move very quickly from being angry at an injustice or an evil being perpetrated, to blatantly sinful thoughts, feelings, and conclusions.  We move from anger to envisioning justice or vengeance or recompense.  It’s one thing to be angry that Christians are being murdered by Muslims around the world, and another thing to delight in visions of what ought to happen to those who perpetrate these heinous deeds.  It’s one thing to be angry at the human greed that allows leaders to live in luxury while their subjects starve to death.  It’s another thing to imagine the ways we think those leaders ought to be treated or punished for their greed.

So I try to allow for the reality of anger and an appropriateness to it.  We can and should be angry at sin – whether within ourselves or others.  However we have to realize that as sinful human beings, this appropriate response very quickly, perhaps immediately, leads us into sin.  We are inherently sinful and in the power of anger Satan is quickly there (as with any other emotion!) to sinful ends.

So, anger is not in and of itself wrong, but we are generally not able to experience it without sinning.  We must be careful.  If you’d like someone far smarter to weigh in on the topic, here is a great Biblical overview of anger by a seminary professor.  It’s a little long, but it’s pretty easy to follow.  Enjoy!

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