Righteous Anger

I found myself really angry the other day. My daughter, Susan (names have been changed to protect the innocent), had said something very hurtful to me. We were sitting as a family at the dinner table eating and talking, when out popped this comment from Susan’s mouth. I felt myself grow hot with anger. My pride was hurt and I grew cold and quiet. I escaped to my office and spent the rest of the night working, as far from Susan as I could get. The following morning I did not treat Susan very kindly. She finally asked me about why I wasn’t being very nice. And, I am ashamed to say, that all of that coldness and those hurt feelings came welling up in me and I started explaining to her in a very loud and not-so-nice voice why her comment had been hurtful, unkind, and downright wrong. And then I walked out and I may have even slammed the door.

I was immediately totally and completely ashamed of myself. My whole reaction from the time the comment was made to the moment I spoke unkindly was sinful. What had I just done? And why was I so angry? I was angry because of a derogatory comment directed towards me. My sinful self shines so brightly in situations like this. And I am mortified at how quickly it shows itself. And so, within five minutes, I was apologizing, and a few minutes later we had a good long talk as to why that comment was made in the first place (which was actually frustration about a totally different situation).

So what does it matter? Why do I feel this is worth a blog post? In a conversation with a woman the other day she was telling me about her husband’s anger and how he will use the excuse that Jesus got angry. Many of us do that. Well, Jesus got angry, so I am allowed to get angry. We don’t view anger as the sin it is.

But, let’s stop and think for just a moment about that incident in the temple (Mark 11). Jesus went into the temple and drove out the moneychangers. Why was He angry that they were there? He was angry because they were offending God the Father. They were turning worship into a business.

And then let’s turn back to the last time we got angry. Was it because someone used God’s name in vain? Or because they are murdering babies in the womb every day? Or perhaps because they have glorified sin and have offended my Savior? In my case, it was because someone offended my pride. Other times it is because I don’t get my own way. Or perhaps someone did something hurtful to my child and I get angry about that.

Truly righteous anger is when we are offended because someone is offending our God. Any other anger is sinful. That is hard to swallow if we are someone who grows angry rather quickly. Some of us are so prone to outbursts of anger that we don’t even give it a thought anymore. It is just part of who we are and we don’t even feel conviction about it. We tell our spouses and children that it is just who we are and we can’t change it (which is just a lie and an excuse, of course).

And some of us rarely get angry. Our personalities are just pretty laid back and we don’t get riled about much of anything. If you are like this, you are probably wondering why I would even write on this topic.

And some of you are like me – very convicted about how angry and offended we get and realizing that this is not an attitude that pleases God. And so we continue the cycle of growing angry and then apologizing. And while I don’t expect perfection on this side of heaven, I have seen many people grow and mature in this area of anger. Even in my own life I have noticed that these angry moments have grown fewer and farther between. We can have victory in Christ! We don’t have to let our anger rule over us…but instead must choose to rule over it.

As I look out my window this morning, I see a beautiful sun-drenched sky. I see the beginning of a new day. Let’s take our focus off of ourselves for this one day. Let’s turn away from our offended and angry thoughts and stop and think for just a second about why we are so angry instead of letting our emotions take over. Let’s say YES to the Spirit and NO to the flesh. (Galatians 5: 16-25).

8 thoughts on “Righteous Anger”

  1. Leslie,

    Thank you so much for your openness regarding your own weaknesses in dealing with anger and Susan. My husband also has a violent temper and I am forever trying to tell him what sin he walks in. He asks me for verses to show him this and I point to Gal 5:20. He claims he is not suffering from fits of rage but from plain ordinary anger which is not a sin biblically.

    I am not sure what the difference is, can you shed some light on this for me? Are there actually any verses that say it is a sin to be angry as you are state above. I would love one to show him.

    1. Here are some helpful verses: Proverbs 29:11; James 1:19-20; Psalm 37:8

      But if your husband is sure he is right, giving him Bible verses may just make him more angry. I would suggest that you start praying for him before showing him any verses. If you already are, then continue to pray for him. Ask the Lord to open his eyes to his sin of anger. I hope that helps a little…

  2. Thank you for the verses. You are right about him being sure he is right. :(. Since he is asking for the verses I will pass them on and let you know how it goes. I hope his heart is open. Thanks again.

  3. Leslie,
    Thank you for your post today. Thank you for being so real in your posts. I sometimes feel I am the only Christian mother who struggles with anger. I remember Nancy Leigh DeMoss once saying that as mothers, we should be the “thermostat” in our homes (setting the temperature, or tone, of the home), and not the “thermometer” (reacting to the temperature, or tone, in the home). So hard!

    And to Anna above, I will pray for your husband, and for you as well. Keep persevering :)

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I remember hearing that thought about the Thermostat. It is such a great thought and you are right– so hard! But, by the grace of God, hopefully we are at least moving in the right direction!

  4. Dear Leslie,

    Read and learn Proverbs 18:17. And, the bible does not say getting angry is a sin. In fact it says be slow to anger and in our anger not to sin. Good bible study would then indicate that the act of getting angry in and of itself is not a sin. After reading many of your other articles, your attempt to establish something as sin that God does not is not surprising at all.


    Anna’s Husband

    1. If you noticed, I did not say getting angry was a sin. Obviously if Jesus got angry and never sinned, it is not a sin. If I gave that impression then I apologize.

      My main concern was what causes us to get angry. I know in my own life, it is most often caused by a selfishness that is the antithesis of the Christian life.

      I would also suggest that you look at the fruit of your anger. Does it bring harmony and a unity to your home? Is it fostering a deeper relationship with your wife and children? I have found that it is much more beneficial for my family if I remain calm and speak softly (Proverbs 15:1) then to explode in rage.

      And, lastly, if your wife is saddened and disheartened by your temper, then just because of your love for her alone, you should know that it is not a good thing in your life.

      As for my posts, I am glad to say that, fortunately, you are not forced to read them. That should be a positive thing for you. I feel called by the Lord to write this blog. I am leaving the rest up to God.

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