We frequently see expressions of anger and sometimes experience flare-up too. We get angry when someone breaks a promise or when we are unable to get what we want. We also get angry because we fail to meet our own expectation or because we do not measure up to perfection. We get frustrated at people when we see them do things we considered as undignified or deviant. We may even be unhappy for being angry with people and sometimes ourselves.
There are many reasons why we get angry but we must always understand that anger in itself is not wrong. What is wrong is dependent on whether we are angry for the right reasons.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said:
"Anyone can be angry - that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way - this is not easy."
The Bible talks about an anger that is righteous and holy, such as the holy anger of God:
And they have defiled My holy name by their abominations which they have committed. So I have consumed them in My anger. (Ezekiel 43:8b NAS)
In this verse, we know that God has the right to be angry when His holy name is defiled by the sins of Man because our God is a holy and righteous God. Jesus Himself was angry and cast out the people who were buying and selling in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17). God must also have been angry when He sends an angel to strike Herod because he did not give God the glory (Acts 12:21-23).
From the references of the Scriptures mentioned above we can see that anger in itself is NOT sin. Anger can be holy and righteous if it is for the right reasons.
Most of us however are angry not because of holiness or righteousness. We often get angry without first investigating the truth or without considerations for the circumstances of others. As Christians, we must learn to be "quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger" (James 1:19 NAS). We may get angry and yet do not sin if we are angry for the right reasons. However, whether it is for the right or wrong reasons, our anger must always be kept in checked and not consume us or be carried forward to another day so that we do not sin. For the Bible says:
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. (Ephesians 4:25-16 NAS)
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:30-32 NAS)
We possess the power to overcome anger because as Christians we have the Holy Spirit in us and "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NAS).
Paul in his epistle to the Galatians teaches us to walk by the Spirit so that we will not conform to the desires of the flesh.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Galatians 5:16-17)
Let us therefore not grieve the Holy Spirit in us by being angry unduly, remembering always not to let anger be brought forward to another day. Where forgiveness is necessary, confess and reconcile with the other party within the same day, and DO NOT let anger accumulate, because it can consume us to the point of bitterness. Confess to God and acknowledge our sins if we have been angry for the wrong reason, and let the Spirit of God Who dwells in us mold and change us as we walk in His Word daily.
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