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By Felix Ngunjiri Gichuri

Reading: Ephesians 4:26

What is Anger?

Anger is a normal personal emotion and a response or reaction to injustice, offense or provocation. We all become angry once in a while. Psychologists tend to see anger as a good thing until it gets out of control. Psychologist Sheila Videbeck describes anger as a normal emotion that involves a strong uncomfortable and emotional response to a perceived provocation. Some view anger as part of the fight or flight response to a perceived threat of danger. Dr. Billy Graham defined anger as ‘a heinous sin that reveals the animal nature in man.’ He says that “many people are charming, lovable, beautiful, handsome and likeable until they choose to be angry with someone and they become obsessed with a fit of rage which transforms them into repulsive, irrational creatures more like wild beasts and brutes than civilized man.” Will Rogers said, “People who fly off in a rage seldom make a good landing.” Bursting into fits of anger is not only sinful but also harmful.

Campus Magazine in an article speaking about the dangers of anger said that anger raises your blood pressure, tightens your arteries, increases your heart rate, takes blood from needed areas of your body and rushes it around trying to prepare you for a fight or flight. Anger causes certain glands to secrete hormones and sets in motion other bodily disturbances leading to onset of such diseases like high blood pressure, stomach ulcers and other anxiety disorders.

Righteous Anger versus Unrighteous Anger

There is righteous anger and unrighteous anger, justifiable and unjustifiable anger. Righteous anger is when a righteous personality like God gets angry over a violation of His commandments. Because of God’s attributes of justice and holiness, He is provoked to anger by sin and by injustices against His people. His wrath is provoked when His children rebel against His commandments and when they practice unholiness before Him. The wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience, who practice such things as filthiness and foolish jokes before a holy God (Eph. 5:6). “Remember, and forget not, how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that you did depart out of the land of Egypt, until you came unto this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD. Also in Horeb you provoked the LORD to wrath, so that the LORD was angry with you to have destroyed you.” (Deut 9:7-8 [KJV])

“And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed” (Judges 2:11-15 [KJV]).

How Anger Leads to Sin and How to Deal with Extremes of Anger

Anger becomes sinful when it gains control over somebody and they seethe, lash out in outbursts of uncontrollable rage while others throw temper tantrums. To throw a tantrum is to express an outburst of childish or unreasonable anger, frustration, or ill temper and is typically characterized by stubbornness, crying, screaming, violence, defiance, angry ranting, hitting or throwing objects everywhere while refusing to be calmed. In dealing with anger, two extremes must be avoided: exploding in violent fit of temper or holding feelings of resentment and bitterness.

Overcoming Anger

We all become offended by other people’s opinions, talk, words and actions committed or omitted. But the Bible says that we should be wise enough to have the ability to gain control over the words that proceed out of our mouths. Many people are peaceable, likeable adorable with their seductive smiles until someone crosses their path or steps on their toes. You will see the beast in them when they will open their mouths and explode with anger and vitriol erupting out of their mouths and they unleash scathing attacks at whoever is against their opinions. The anger in their heart turns their beautiful and handsome faces into long frowned faces distorted by the evil and hatred emanating from their hearts. A certain extract from the Reader’s Digest says that it takes 78 muscles to frown and only 14 to smile. Other adages state the same observation using differently worded message.

One deep-fried-Zen adage advises: “It takes 13 muscles to smile and 33 to frown. Why overwork?”

      (The Washington Post, 5 December 1982)

    “You know the old adage that it only takes 10 muscles to smile but it takes 100 to frown,” she said.

      (The New York Times, 19 April 1987)

    According to doctors we use only four muscles to smile, but when we frown we use 64 muscles — 16 times more.

      (The Hindu, 11 March 2000)

It is so easy to smile genuinely at people because it comes out of the good that is stored in your heart. Do not allow evil thoughts to reign in your hearts as they will come out of your mouths because “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matt 12:35 [KJV]). Overcome evil with good.  My friends,“Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12:16-21 [HCSB])

When Offended, Refuse to be Angry and Forgive the Offender

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26 that “Be angry (if you must) and do not sin by letting the sun go down when you are still angry.” The Bible says that anger is normal for everybody as we all get angry but it becomes sin when it is allowed to dwell in your heart, especially allowing anger to continue in your heart up to the next day. When somebody offends you, just forgive him or her unconditionally. “For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your heavenly Father will not forgive you your sins.” (Matt 6:14-15 [NET2]) “Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25 [NET2]) If you have offended someone, seek for reconciliation immediately so that your prayers are not hindered. “So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Reach a settlement quickly with your adversary while you’re on the way with him, or your adversary will hand you over to the judge, the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison.” (Matt 5:23-25 [HCSB]) God forgives all our confessed sins regardless of their magnitude. “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isa 1:18 [ESV2011]) But if you do not forgive others, your heavenly Father will not forgive you your sins.”

The Unforgivable Sin

Anger should not be allowed to lead to resentment and bitterness where one feels wronged or betrayed leading to unforgiveness dwelling in one’s heart. Unforgiveness if allowed to dwell in your heart becomes resentment and bitterness and God has said He will not forgive that sin. It becomes the unforgivable sin. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” You can pray, fast or cry to God to forgive you of your sins but if there is unforgiveness in your heart against a person, He will not forgive of your sins. You have the unforgivable sin in your heart and that sin is unto death. God says that there is no need for anyone to pray for that person because unrepented sin of unforgiveness dwelling in the heart will lead to death. “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.” (1John 5:16 [ESV2011])

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger:” (James 1:19 [KJV])


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