The Use and Misuse of Anger

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26).

When we consider that God gets angry at things, it should not come as a surprise to learn that not all anger is sin. In fact, every emotion can have a good use. We know, for example, the many positive sides of love. Love leads us to help others in need, share burdens, and speak graciously to others. But the term “love” has also been perverted, too, used in ways far removed from the biblical sense. While anger may have a righteous expression, much of it manifests itself in sinful ways and gets out of hand very quickly.

Because anger can soon degenerate into complete loss of control, we need to be on guard continually. How can we maintain the healthy use of anger?

1. Stay faithful to God.
When we stray from God, we become vulnerable to Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). Since love flows from a renewed heart (Romans 5:5), we need to stay in close touch with God each day, knowing that sinful anger can arise in a moment.

2. Focus on generating light, not heat.

Occasionally people become angry with non-people related matters, such as a rainy day on a planned picnic or bad health. But most anger comes during interaction with others. When conflict arises, we need to stay focused on the issue at hand, not unleashing wrath on others. When tempers begin to flare, we should take a step back and even call a timeout.

3. Try not to get personal.
Try to keep issues in focus, not personalities. People you interact with (yes, even those you’re angry with), respond best when not attacked. For some, this will be harder to accomplish than others. Still we must strive to not let anger deteriorate into personal bashing.

As with all matters, we must pray for grace and strength to avoid succumbing to sinful anger. While anger can manifest itself in righteous ways, it soon slips into something we want to avoid. May God grant us power and grace to walk in love (Ephesians 5:2).

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