Watch Out for Anger

Anger is not inherently sinful. Observe that God often has been angry with righteous indignation:

  • Deuteronomy 29:27-28. Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, bringing upon it all the curses written in this book, and the Lord uprooted them from their land in anger and fury and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as they are this day.’
  • 2 Chronicles 29:10. Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, in order that his fierce anger may turn away from us.
  • Nehemiah 9:17. They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.
  • Hebrews 10:26-27. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

It is obvious that sin is so reprehensible in the eyes of God that His response to it often is properly characterized as anger. Jesus Himself got angry at those who were critical of Him for healing on the Sabbath (Mark 3:5), and He evidently was angry when he drove the corrupt moneychangers out of the temple (John 2:13-17). There are times when anger about sin is an appropriate response (Proverbs 14:29; James 1:19; cf. Ecclesiastes 3:8).

But while it is possible to be angry without sinning (Ephesians 4:26), we must be very careful in how we deal with anger, because if we are not careful anger will lead us quickly to sin. The book of Proverbs provides a great deal of practical guidance. Consider the following lessons and the passages that teach them: Anger tends to make us do outrageous and cruel things (27:4), as well as foolish things (14:17). A habitually angry person is not a good friend (22:24-25). It often is wise to defer anger, to wait until the emotion dies down (19:11). “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1). “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention” (15:18). In short, lives often fall apart because of anger (25:28).

Perhaps we would do well to think of two words whenever we become angry: “Watch out!”

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