Righteous Anger

  • Christine Vander Wielen, M.S.W., LCSW
  • Series: Fall 2016, Volume 23, Issue 4
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“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry Ephesians 4:26 (NIV)

Anger is one of the most uncomfortable emotions that we all experience from time to time. Some of us are easily angered; whereas, others are slow to anger. For some, anger is expressed outwardly and for others anger is turned inward, leading to depression.

The Bible is filled with verses that instruct us on handling our anger. Although anger is a God given emotion, our anger can be righteous or unrighteous. Righteous anger stems out of experiencing an injustice, being sinned against or when God is being mocked. For example, in the gospel of John, we learn that Jesus turned the tables over of the money changers because God’s house had been turned into a den of robbers. Another example of righteous anger is when someone is falsely accused of wrong doing. When we experience righteous anger, we are to bring our thoughts and feelings to The Lord and trust that He will make things right in His way and in His time. Scripture is clear that we are not to seek revenge or to retaliate.

Unrighteous anger is self focused and prideful. It is anger that stems from not getting what we want, when we want or how we want. An example of unrighteous anger from the Old Testament is when King Saul was jealous that the Israelites were praising David for his military conquests. King Saul was not receiving the accolades that he wanted and thought were his due. A modern example of unrighteous anger is road rage, when we cannot get where we want, when we want to go. When we experience unrighteous anger, we need to first seek out The Lord and repent for our thoughts and attitudes and ask Him for a renewing of our heart and mind.

Regardless of whether our anger is righteous or unrighteous, we are to seek out The Lord for guidance and wisdom as to how to handle our anger so that in our anger we do not sin. We are also to go to Him right away so that the sun does not go down on our anger. If anger, even righteous anger, is allowed to fester it can become unrighteous anger.