Is Anger Good or Bad?

It’s been said that anger is one of the most fundamental negative emotions. Just hearing the word, most of us immediately think of a negative experience we’ve had with it. We typically don’t like the word and often want to disguise anger by using other words such as annoyed, perturbed, aggravated, peeved, hurt, or frustrated. However, knowing that anger is not necessarily a negative emotion is helpful. Anger can have a very positive function. It’s how we express our anger that makes it negative or positive.

God designed anger to have a positive function; we tend to misuse it most of the time. What does God say about this emotion?

Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,”

Psalm 4:4, “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah.”

Scripture shows that we can be angry and not sin. I think of David getting angry that the Israelites were cowering in fear while Goliath taunted them. He used his anger for good and defeated the giant. We see Jesus getting angry and driving the moneychangers out of the Temple. However, we also see anger reflected in the lives of Cain, Esau, Saul, and the Pharisees and its negative impacts.

The question then becomes: how do we best deal with anger?

First, we must acknowledge it. Internalizing it and letting it build up will do more harm than good. If left unchecked, it can quickly grow into bitterness. 

Second, we must express our anger without sinning. And last, when that happens, make sure to do it quickly. We read in Ephesians that “we are not to let the sun go down on our wrath.” In other words, deal with it quickly.

There’s another effective way to control our anger. When the Psalmist said to “meditate within your heart…” he showed us the importance of our thoughts. Your thought life is the key ingredient to emotional and behavioral control. If you want more peace, start with your thoughts.

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

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