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Letting Go of Anger Part 1: Are You Angry?

By Dr. Charles Stanley

Watch Are You Angry? video.

Scripture: Ephesians 4:26-32

I. Anger can devastate marriages, separate children and parents, and poison other relationships. That’s why the apostle Paul encouraged believers to deal with anger quickly—before it could take a toll on their lives (Eph. 4:26-27). Let’s explore what the Bible says about this powerful emotion.

II. Anger Defined

A. Anger is a strong feeling of intense displeasure, hostility, or indignation that results from a real or imagined threat, insult, frustration, or injustice toward yourself or others important to you.

B. There are three categories of anger.

1.) Rage: an explosive, uncontrolled expression of anger.

2.) Resentment: unexpressed anger. When people try to deny their hurts and frustrations, resentment is the result. This type of anger will destroy them from the inside out.

3.) Indignation: righteous anger about injustice, oppression, or an unholy situation. God’s anger falls into this category.

III. Anger in Scripture

A. The Old Testament books of wisdom provide some of the best verses on this subject. Proverbs 16:32 says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” Those who are slow to become angry may still feel upset, but they control their emotions rather than letting anger turn to rage. The Word of God also cautions us against associating with those whose lives are characterized by anger (Prov. 22:24-25).

B. Anger plays an important role in many well-known Bible stories. The first person to become angry was likely Adam, who blamed Eve for their sin (Gen. 3:12). Cain, Moses, Saul, Jonah, and Peter are just a few others who were motivated by anger.

IV. Causes of Anger

  • Not getting our way: Some people grow angry when they lose control of a situation.
  • Feeling rejected: Being excluded, overlooked, or mistreated can stir up hostility.
  • Loss: Losing what we cherish, or simply fearing that loss, can make us angry.
  • Disappointment: Unmet expectations can lead to anger.
  • Injustice: When we see people mistreated, we can become indignant on their behalf.
  • Feeling inadequate: Comparing our life to the lives of others may upset us.

V. Good vs. Bad Anger

A. The Bible reveals God expressing holy anger.

1.) The Lord became angry with the Israelites for marrying foreign women. He knew that their wives would introduce the worship of pagan gods.

2.) Jesus angrily rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and unmerciful interpretations of God’s laws (Matt. 23:13-33; Mark 3:2-5). His indignation at their misuse of the temple led Him to turn over their tables and chase them from His Father’s house (Matt. 21:13-14).

B. You and I can have righteous anger when we become upset over the mistreatment of others or when we feel compelled to rectify an unholy situation. But most of our anger is wrongly motivated by self-interest. Unrighteous anger generally takes one of two forms.

  • “Powder keg anger” is explosive. Anyone in its path, such as a spouse, is usually taken by surprise.
  • “Crock pot anger” simmers and boils for a long time. Some people may be in complete denial about their stewing emotion or may take pride in possessing the ability to control their behavior. But denied anger is like a poison—spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

VI. A Five-fold Test for Anger: Ask yourself these questions to see if you are harboring unrighteous anger:

  • Is my anger directed toward another person? Try to identify the individual.
  • Is it without a justifiable cause? If your anger is selfish, you need to repent, forgive that person, and move on.
  • Am I seeking vengeance? If you have a desire to “get even,” or harm the other person in some way for a misdeed, you are not operating according to Scripture.
  • Am I cherishing anger? You might resist surrendering your frustration to the Lord. Maybe on some level, you want to be upset. Unless you release it to God, however, you will be unable to experience the freedom He longs to give you.
  • Do I have an unforgiving spirit? Perhaps you feel that you simply can’t lay down your anger. But with the Lord’s help, I’m confident you can.

VII. Conclusion: While suffering a horrible death on the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Let’s follow His example and graciously forgive anyone who offends us. That way, you and I will be free to enjoy the abundant life God has planned for us.

Copyright 2014 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

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