Are there times you should actually be angry?
Let’s look at when Jesus drove people out of the Temple (Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-48) but wait, was He angry?
Reading about this I’m not convinced that Jesus was actually angry here. And He seemed to be in control of his actions and emotions. He didn’t go on a crazy rampage; His actions were linked to the teaching that He then gave. From this I learn that even if you have just cause to get angry, you should not allow yourself to become out of control. You should stay level headed and ensure that any action taken is reasonable.
In Mark 3:5 “Jesus looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts”. It was the Sabbath, Jesus was in the synagogue and present was a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees were watching Jesus to see if He would heal this man on the Sabbath and they could, therefore, use this as a reason to accuse Him. In vs 4 Jesus asked them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” When they kept silent, Jesus looked at them in anger. I notice here that
- Jesus did not act on this anger. Although He looked at them with anger, this was as far as it seemed to go. His following speech and actions did not appear to be fuelled by this anger. He proceeded to heal this man rather than deal with the Pharisees.
- He did not allow the anger to divert His focus from the man who needed healing. This highlights a point to me. Anger can divert our focus. In fact, it is a tactic often used because if you get someone angry about something they can forget about whatever else was going on at that time. If Jesus’ focus had shifted away from this man with the withered hand and onto the Pharisees, perhaps that man would never have received his healing. And I’m sure that having two fully useable hands would have made a significant difference to his life. One could say that the only effect would have been this man not receiving his healing but oftentimes, the healing of one person by Jesus was like a pebble in a pond for it caused many ripples which subsequently affected many others. For example, chapter 1 verses 40-45 tell the story of a leper being healed. Once healed, he told many about it which drew many people to Jesus; so much so that He “could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.” (vs 45). Many others, therefore, got to hear about Jesus and came to Him as a result of the healing of this one man. Although nothing is mentioned post healing of the man with the withered hand, who knows where it led and who else was touched. At the very least, this man’s life was never the same.
- His anger was not about Himself. Jesus was “grieved by the hardness of their hearts” in that they were valuing strict adherence to the letters of the law and would, therefore, withhold healing from this man who needed it. People often get angry due to reasons such as hurt pride but I think that one of the reasons Jesus’ anger here was justified is that it was not about himself. It was unselfish.
We discussed this question at a Dynamic Faith Bible study and one thing Pastor Hafis said was that things which anger God should anger us. We have the Holy Spirit within us and so whatever grieves Him, should grieve us too. Therefore there are times which we should be angry.
By Sarah Adebambo
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:
- Several brothers got angry but only Simeon and Levi acted on it which led to a curse
- 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.
- 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
- It’s not necessarily wrong to be angry
- 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.
By Sarah Adebambo
Read Part 3:
Anger is typically seen in a negative light but this is not always the case. One of the aims of this is to help you learn more about anger and also importantly know how to deal with it. For some people it occurs more frequently than for others but chances are, as a human being, one day you will get angry. When that happens, I hope this proves useful.
The Oxford Little Dictionary and Thesaurus defines anger as:
- extreme displeasure (thesaurus: annoyance, displeasure, exasperation, fury, indignation, ire, irritation, rage, resentment, vexation, wrath).
- make angry (thesaurus: annoy, colloq. aggravate, displease, drive mad, enrage, exasperate, gall, incense, inflame, infuriate, irritate, madden, outrage, provoke, vex).
The use of the word “extreme” in this definition tells me that anger should not be a frequent emotion. If someone is becoming angry often they most likely need to seek help. Given that it is an extreme emotion, I do not think it should be experienced often.
When I started to think of examples in the Bible Moses immediately came to mind. There was the incident when he struck the Rock (Numbers 20:1-13) but there’s also the time when he killed the Egyptian in Exodus 2:11-12 (although the Bible doesn’t explicitly say whether or not Moses was angry when he did so).
I view anger as being an explosive emotion. If truly Moses were angry here, I think it started before he saw the Egyptian beating a Hebrew because the fact that he was careful to check if anyone was looking shows that he did not just react in a fit of rage to the injustice he was faced with. Anger can lurk within someone and I think this anger can be more dangerous than the spontaneous anger which is, in some respects, probably more ‘honest’ as it just comes out. An anger that lurks may plot and scheme and seek to take revenge.
Is anger an emotion? A spirit? Or both?
Mark 3:5 shows that Jesus got angry. If anger were an evil spirit, I do not believe Jesus would have become angry. Considering various examples of people in the Bible being angry (Naaman in 2 Kings 5:11, Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites in Nehemiah 4:7, King Xerxes in Esther 1:12) and verses where anger is spoken of, (eg. Psalm 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret–it only causes harm, Proverbs 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city); all seem to be cases of anger as a human emotion. I therefore wouldn’t call anger a spirit. However, perhaps it is the case that spirits do sometimes cause anger and if someone is frequently being irrationally anger I think it is possible that an evil spirit is behind it.
By Sarah Adebambo
Read Part 2: