Is being angry a sin?
When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day. Do not give the devil a way to defeat you.Ephesians 4:26–27 (NCV)
Anger itself is not a sin or Paul would not have told people to avoid sinning when they’re angry.
There are things that should make us angry in this sinful world! Things like: Cruelty. Injustice. Terrorism. God being dishonored. Death of Innocents. Lies. And that’s just the shortlist.
I can’t help but wonder how much of our anger is about actual sin . . . about the things God says He hates. The truth is much of our anger is more personal and triggered by selfishness or self-righteousness.
So, let me ask you . . . what’s your hot button? You know you have one or more than one. I’ll bet those closest to you know exactly what your buttons are and how to push them to get a reaction, set you off, make your blood boil, get on your last nerve, or whatever you call it.
Paul went on to tell us when anger becomes sin…
Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.Ephesians 4:31–32 (NCV)
Based on Paul’s words, we can know:
- Anger itself is just an emotion.
- It’s possible to be angry without sinning.
- It’s important to handle anger appropriately and let go of it quickly.
- The devil wants to use anger to defeat and divide us.
The question becomes – how can you and I manage our angry feelings and avoid sinning?
1. Pause and Breathe – Don’t react or say anything quickly. Take 5 to 10 slow calming breaths. (Your mother called it “counting to ten.”)
2. Take Control of Your Thoughts – It’s easy for anger to quickly become self-focused and self-righteous. But in moments of anger, we need to take a moment to prayerfully ask God to let humility and wisdom guide our thoughts, words, and actions.
3. Seek Understanding by Asking Questions – I didn’t like it as a teen, but when I had a disagreement with someone my mother always asked me to look at things from their perspective. In retrospect, it taught me to humbly consider the other person’s struggles and feelings.
4. Consider What You Want to Accomplish – Do you want to win? Get even? Hurt? Resolve? Heal? Knowing your goal for the present situation and ultimately the relationship will help you know what to do next.
5. Choose the Relationship – As followers of Jesus, we should always want the relationship to come first. The goal should always be to resolve and heal.
6. Maintain Self-control and Choose Words Carefully – There are times when we need to speak the truth and challenge the words or actions that made us angry. However, God’s Word tells us to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)
7. Be Quick to Forgive – Everyone says and does things they wish they could take back or do over. It’s important for us to remember that we have been forgiven by God and He has told us to forgive as we have been forgiven . . . not by people but by Him.
Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.Ephesians 4:32
It’s hard, though, isn’t it?
Let’s go to the Lord and ask for His help to deal with feelings of anger.
A Prayer to Avoid Sinning When You’re Angry
Father, Thank you for giving us emotions. It is a wonderful thing to be able to feel love, joy, peace, contentment, and more. It’s harder to manage feelings of sadness, disappointment, frustration, and anger. Your Word says that in this sinful world we will have times when we will be angry. Sin should make us angry.
Too often, Father, anger is personal, self-focused, and self-righteous. Too often, I’m angry when I should be patient and understanding. Too often, I’m quick to judge others when I should be dealing with my own pride. I am so sorry, please forgive me.
By the power of Your Spirit, help me pause, breathe, and pray before I react in anger. Help me to patiently ask questions and intentionally listen for understanding. Give me all I need to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving.
I give myself to You, please make me more like Jesus, in whose name, I pray. Amen.
One more thing…
Matthew Henry wrote:
“If we would be angry and not sin (says one), we must be angry at nothing but sin; and we should be more jealous for the glory of God than for any interest or reputation of our own.”
I don’t believe it’s possible to go on social media without seeing something that makes us angry. And of course, those who know us best at home and at work will inevitably say and do things that upset us.
We will get angry.
The important thing to remember is that we can go to God with our feelings and ask Him to guide us and help us have what we need to avoid sinning when we are angry.
So, whether it’s online or in person . . . pause, breathe, control your thoughts, go to God, choose your words and actions carefully, and forgive. Always forgive.
May God be with you and bless you as you avoid sinning when you’re angry.
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