If we ask the question, “What does the Bible say about anger?” we might first be thinking about anger as a negative thing, and in many cases, it is. It doesn’t take much to think of an example of sinful anger.But it might be helpful to think of anger as simply one of a range of human emotions. It can be healthy or unhealthy, righteous or sinful, but it can also be redeemed and used by God for good.
Human emotions are no stranger to God. He created our capacity to experience them, and Jesus experienced emotions when he walked the earth, including grief (John 11:35), joy (John 15:11), and anger (John 2:15-16). As he was perfect in every way, we can be confident that emotions, including anger, are part of being human and are not automatically wrong.
Emotions themselves are neutral. Our thoughts and actions, how we respond to those emotions, determine whether we will act out our feelings in a godly or ungodly manner.
We’ve all witnessed the destructive force of sinful anger, whether in our own lives or that of others. To take it a step further, we can all acknowledge that sinful anger is one of the greatest forces of destruction in the world. Along with power, it’s a deadly and evil thing that can be used to harm, abuse, and destroy people, relationships, and even entire countries.
But anger starts in the same place every other human emotion springs from; the heart. So, to get to the root of destructive anger, we must start with the heart. Addressing anger issues, whether in a child or an adult, as soon as possible can allow us to get to the root quickly and begin to find another path that doesn’t cause destruction.
If you’re interested in Christian counseling for anger issues and thinking Biblically about them, whether due to anger in yourself or someone in your life, keep reading to find out more.
What does it mean to have anger issues?
Here are some questions to ask if you’re wondering if you or someone you know has a significant problem with anger:
- How often do you feel angry?
- What actions do you take when you feel angry?
- How do those actions affect those around you?
- Has your anger impacted your job and/or relationships?
- Do you frequently experience outbursts, raise your voice, or “see red”?
- Do you often lash out at others when you’re angry?
- Do you often use negative self-talk when you’re angry, or harm yourself in some other way?
- Do you tend to sulk and use sarcasm or passive-aggressive behavior like the silent treatment on a regular basis?
The American Psychological Association defines anger as: “An emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.” At the root of anger is a sense of being wronged. Often, the truth is that wrong has been done to you. Anger is a rational, normal response to being wronged.
It becomes concerning when angry responses are both excessive and unhealthy. Are you able to compartmentalize your anger, to process it, and to move through it? Or has it taken root and grown like a poisonous weed, affecting you and maybe even people who had nothing to do with the original wrong?
In the case of unhealthy anger, it may become habitual, even over any perceived slight. Sometimes it can lead to irrational thinking or responses, even when no true wrong has occurred.
Types of anger.
WebMD describes three main types of anger:
This type of anger can lead to self-harm or other types of self-punishment. There’s usually no healthy outlet or coping mechanism being used.
When anger is channeled into outward situations, blaming others often occurs and this is when outbursts or even violence can happen.
People who tend to have more passive-aggressive behavior will often give others the silent treatment, use sarcasm as their weapon of choice, etc.
It can take some consideration to identify which type(s) of anger you’re prone toward and whether you’re able to process it in a healthy way. If you tend to go inward when you’re angry, you can work on healthy coping mechanisms that will allow you to process it and not take it out on yourself. Similarly, if you tend to move outward and take things out on other people, you can learn to cope with and manage your anger without harming others in the process.
It’s important to realize that denial does not work. Your anger is there; it’s what you choose to do with it that will make the difference. Acknowledging it and pausing can be a wonderful first step.
A 2016 study of American adults found that 7.8% reported “inappropriate, intense, or poorly controlled anger” and was characterized by:
- Being triggered frequently by small things.
- Difficult to control.
- Leading to frequent outbursts.
- Including hitting people or throwing things.
Once this type of anger takes root, it can lead to victimizing others, legal problems, mental health concerns, and physical problems like increased blood pressure and brain fog.
Anger in the Bible.
The Bible has a lot to say about anger. God’s wrath is often mentioned in conjunction with his righteousness (Romans 1:18). Human anger not under godly control is portrayed as sinful and foolish, leading to conflict and quarreling.
A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. – Proverbs 15:18
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. – Proverbs 19:11
Scripture says, ‘In your anger, do not sin.’ Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. – Ephesians 4:26
Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. – Proverbs 29:11
“Putting off” sinful anger and “putting on” godly attributes are part of the sanctification process.
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. – Colossians 3:8
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. – Ephesians 4:31
In the context of the New Testament, putting off anger is not a way to earn God’s favor, but a response to His grace in salvation. As He makes us holy, we respond by putting away sinful desires and pursuing righteousness:
- Because of God’s grace, we can see the consequences our anger has on our relationship with God, others, and ourselves.
- We can repent of sinful anger and experience his grace and forgiveness.
- And, we can choose to walk in freedom from shame and guilt, depending on him to help us grow in patience and wisdom.
No matter what consequences you’ve experienced from sinful anger, there is still redemption available to you through Christ. At [Christian Counseling], our goal is to be instruments God can use to find healing through a faith-based approach and therapeutic techniques.
Help and healing for anger issues.
Counseling is a tool for walking in freedom from unhealthy anger. During the counseling process, you can learn techniques that can help you learn how to handle anger when it arises.
Commonly used tools to help with managing anger will depend on your individual situation but may include:
- Identifying underlying issues beneath the anger, including childhood experiences, etc.
- Identifying any co-occurring mental health concerns.
- Learning how to pause and take time-outs when you experience the emotion of anger.
- Finding constructive outlets, including physical activity, for the physical side of anger.
- Learning healthy conflict resolution and communication skills.
- Talking through past grudges and overcoming them.
- Working toward forgiveness for hurt and wrong from your past.
You can also receive accountability, whether in individual or group counseling for anger issues, to help you gauge your progress and find encouragement and hope.
Identifying anger issues does not have to lead to shame and sadness. Instead, confessing our sin provides freedom and hope. If you’ve been able to identify your struggle, this is an amazing first step toward recovery.
If you are interested in Christian counseling for anger issues, please call our office today to find out more information about our services.
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