How can you recognise anger which is not in the ‘typical’ form?

As seen from the dictionary definition, anger is a strong emotion.  Perhaps then, if one is feeling very strongly about something they should ask themselves, “Is this anger?”  I think it’s good to identify and label anger for what it is so that you can name and pray against it specifically if need be.  Also, if you don’t know that you are angry, you are less likely to deal with it appropriately.

Is it wrong to get angry?

I do not think it is wrong to get angry.  Proverbs 16:32 says:

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,

And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Notice it says “He who is slow to anger”.  It does not say ‘He who never gets angry’.  To me, this reflects that anger is a natural human emotion and we are not expected to never get angry.  However, it is not advisable to be angry often and even if provoked, we should resist getting angry.

Ephesians 4:26-7 says “Be angry and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27nor give place to the devil.  The quote is from Psalm 4.4: Be angry, and do not sin.  Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. “Be angry”.  So I think we can establish that it is not a crime to be angry.  The Bible does not say we should never be angry but what we do after getting angry is very important.  I think this is emphasised by The Message translation of Ephesians 4:26-7:

Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.

If we look at the case of Simeon and Levi, it shows what can happen when you act on your anger.  When their sister Dinah was raped by Shechem the Hivite, they were angry as too were her other brothers (Genesis 34:7).  However, it was only Simeon and Levi who acted on this anger by killing all the men of Shechem’s city (vs 25).  There are not recorded any immediate consequences of their actions (such as revenge by another party) but in Jacob’s final days in Genesis 49 he revisits this episode and curses Simeon and Levi for their anger (vs 7).  While many of their other brothers were blessed, they were not.  From this I notice several things:

  1. Several brothers got angry but only Simeon and Levi acted on it which led to a curse
  2. The consequences of your actions may not always be seen immediately. It was many years between the incident and Jacob’s final words to his sons.  We should be careful what we do today so that we do not reap bad things tomorrow.
  3. The curse affected their descendants. Your act of anger may therefore not just negatively affect you, but others as well for years to come.

So back to the question: “Is it wrong to get angry?”  Interestingly, God asked Jonah a similar question.  Jonah 4:1 says that “…Jonah…became angry.”  In verse 4 God asks him, “… ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’ ”.  This says to me two things

  1. It’s not necessarily wrong to be angry
  2. If you are angry, there should be just cause for this.

So in summary, there is no sin in being angry of itself. However, one should not be angry often and if you are, there should be just cause for it.

Note also as seen in Ephesians 4:27 that anger can give the devil a foothold in your life.  I think this means that anger can open a doorway to the enemy to operate in your life and I don’t think any of us want that.