Ask Steve: Dealing with Anger









Question: Steve, can you give me a biblical definition of anger so I can know the difference between this and the anger expressed by the world? Can you also describe to me the various ways that people in society deal with anger? What is the biblical solution to dealing with anger?

Answer: Anger, in the best sense of the word, is holy hatred against sin and its effects. Anger in and of itself is not sinful. Paul says in Ephesians 4:26 that it is possible to be angry and not sin, because such anger is selflessly and properly directed with the right motive. Paul makes a clear distinction between sinful and holy anger. Psalm 7:11 also teaches that God is angry with the wicked every day. Because God is perfectly holy and righteous, it is in His nature that He expresses His wrath in conjunction with His just nature. Since God cannot sin (and God expresses anger at various points in Scripture), passages like Psalm 7:11 show that anger is not necessarily sinful, and that it is part of God’s holy wrath against sin and evil. Righteous anger becomes unrighteous anger when the anger is ventilated (blowing up) toward others and when anger is internalized (clamming up). In other words, evil anger is always selfish, uncontrolled, and unholy.

Five ways that people deal with anger are through: 1) ventilating, or releasing anger without restraint at other people or situations (which is a sin in outward deed), 2) clamming up, or releasing anger within oneself and making oneself irritable and miserable (which then becomes a sin of the heart), 3) attacking the problem rather than people, 4). focusing on the solution and not just the problem, 5). use, not abuse, his anger profitably.

The sinful way of dealing with anger has to do with the first two points. It is to use anger to abuse or attack others rather than properly tackle the solution. Anger that is also turned into resentment and bitterness becomes sinful. The counselor’s task is to teach the counselee God’s way of using anger if anger should be necessary in a person’s life. He does this by directing all of anger’s energies toward the solution, which is the response that seeks to destroy and remove any impediments that stand between us and another.

The godly way to deal with anger is put off selfish and destructive anger and to put on righteous anger, and more so peace and contentment if possible. The counselee should repent of any sin of anger that has hurt or abused others close within his circle. The counselee should then be guided to learn to release his anger constructively to solve the problem that gave occasion for it. Redirecting anger from oneself to the problem, rather than keeping it to oneself in the clamming process or directing it toward others in ventilation, is the solution to resentment. Once again, it is about putting off the old ways and putting on the new biblical patterns. Love must inevitably replace anger, since the spirit of giving within biblical love brings about a new and restored relationship, according to John 3:15, Romans 12:20, and Galatians 2:20.

Recommended Resource: Uprooting Anger by Robert D. Jones