February 22, 1995

Is Anger a Sin?

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What is it that really ticks you off? Maybe a coworker speaks with a condescending and arrogant tone of voice. Maybe a team member always arrives five minutes late for meetings and is never prepared. Maybe a subordinate consistently underperforms, leaving you to pick up the pieces. Maybe your boss preaches ethics and values at staff meetings and sleeps with the wife of his best friend on the weekends. Maybe a competitor is lying about the quality of her products to squeeze you out of the market. Maybe the guy across the hall is an atheist who mocks God at every opportunity.

Anger, by itself, isn't sinful. In fact, righteous anger is part of God's nature. We often read about God's becoming angry with His people—and acting on that anger. Jesus, God in human form, was consumed with zeal for His house, and it showed when, in righteous anger, He chased the moneychangers out of the temple.

Just because you accept Christ doesn't mean you lose your emotions. And, unlike God, we aren't perfect, and therefore we don't always manage emotions such as anger and jealousy in a just and godly manner. So how are you managing those emotions? How do you deal with your anger when, as it inevitably will, it comes over you?

David, in Psalm 4:4, says, in effect, to cool your jets. “When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, put it this way: “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27).

The picture here is of someone who doesn't act rashly and doesn't allow anger to control his or her actions. In other words, you should turn the issue over to God. “Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord” (Psalm 4:5).

Once you have done that, then you can act, all the while asking yourself, Are my actions honoring God? If they aren't, then whom are they honoring—and what are you going to do about it?

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