This is a very good question and one that should interest us all. First of all, we must ask, WHAT IS ANGER? It has been defined as “a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong.” “Anger or wrath is an intense emotional response. Often it indicates when one’s basic boundaries are violated.”

We are told that we should not get angry in Ephesians 4:31, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” Yet we are told in the same chapter that we should get angry. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” No wonder we can become confused about the origin of this emotion and how to understand it.

The first person to get angry in the Bible is the first person ever born. Genesis 4:3-5 tells us, “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth (angry), and his countenance fell.” His anger led him to kill his brother. (Genesis 4:8) Yet, the Lord Himself becomes angry as we read in Psalms 7:11, “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” We read of the Lord Jesus being angry in Mark 3:5, “And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts…”

The Bible tells us that God is slow to anger in Psalms 103:8, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” The Bible tells us to be slow to anger in James 1:19, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” It’s obvious to see that anger is a characteristic of the Lord and is found in all people. When is anger okay? We sometimes use the expression, “righteous indignation.” This speaks of an anger that is caused when someone or something happens that goes against the Lord’s standard. We get upset to see sin prevalent around us. We get upset when the world around us has no use or respect for our Lord. We get upset when so-called Christians support such things as abortion on demand. I suggest that these things cause the Lord to get angry and so should cause us to get angry also. While we are not told that the Lord Jesus became angry when He found some in the temple were buying and selling, His actions certainly seem to indicate that He was angry. However, in that anger, He preached truth to those around Him. We read in Luke 19:45-47, “And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple…”

Scripture tells us that we cannot serve the Lord out of our natural anger. James 1:20 says, “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” We cannot minister to others when we are mad at them. This is not ‘righteous indignation’, this is natural anger that needs to be avoided. As far as natural anger, we read in Psalms 37:8, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” 1 Corinthians 13:5 teaches us that love, “is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.” If we are occupied with the love of God, we will find that our natural anger is abated. May we learn to be angry only at the things that would cause the Lord to be angry. Anger existed in the beginning and will continue to exist until the Lord calls us home. Let us strive to discern the difference between ‘righteous indignation’ and natural anger. Let us seek to use our ‘righteous indignation’ properly, even as Christ did. Let us confess our natural anger and ask the Lord to relieve us of it so that we might serve Him. (253.6)