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Do You Do Well to Be Angry?

Even the most mild-mannered people get angry. Even God gets angry – although the results are often more universal when he does it. There are times when a person should be angry and times when people are angry without cause. Regardless of the reasons, we have to learn to control our anger or watch passively as it starts to control us and alienate the people around – strangers, neighbors, and loved ones most of all. If allowed, anger will take control and become the reflexive response to even the slightest problems.


I. Angry People

A. Cain

1. Cain was angry because his pride was wounded (Genesis 4:1-8)

2. it showed on his face and God, aware of it, counseled him on how to change the situation

3. instead, he treated his anger by lashing out at an innocent scapegoat

4. with anger, sin crouches at the door, pushing our buttons and running its fingernails across the chalkboard, but we must rule over it


B. Balaam

1. Balaam was a prophet for hire and God was disappointed in how quickly he would take off and work for anybody in exchange for money, so he arranged for Balaam’s donkey to rebuke him (Numbers 22:23-30)

2. Balaam was angry at the donkey because he could not see what the donkey saw; his perception was flawed, blinded to the spiritual and cognizant only of the flesh

3. his anger was misdirected, violent, and poorly targeted at that

4. in the same way, we sometimes take our anger out on the wrong people – the ones who happen to be closest, or defenseless, or whose continued presence and forgiveness we take for granted


C. Jonah

1. Jonah is the reluctant prophet, who preferred not going to preach in Nineveh because he wanted the sinners there to be lost and destroyed

2. when he was compelled to go anyway, and had redemptive results, Jonah was disappointed and depressed – he was angry that God’s anger was so controlled and tempered by grace (Jonah 3:10-4:11)

3. God’s point was that Jonah had no right to be angry, for the Lord cared as much for the humans in Nineveh as Jonah did for his plant

4. anger is sometimes a question of justice, but at other times, we are simply leaping into anger because it is convenient, habitual, and proud

D. Jesus

1. Jesus is not generally remembered for his anger, but his deity and humanity were constantly confronted with the frustrations wrought by religious hypocrites, who had not the compassion God showed to Nineveh, nor even the affection Jonah lavished on his plant

3. besides cleansing the temple of its profiteers, Jesus also had to deal with men who questioned his justice in healing people at the wrong times (Mark 3:1-6)

4. Jesus was angry at them for the same reason God was disappointed in Jonah; here, we are to understand the objective of the Law was to do good and we are justly indignant when red tape, bias, and selfishness interfere with that (see Mark 12:29-31)


II. Angry All the Time

A. Etiology

1. malice (Psalm 41:4-5) 

2. insensitivity (First Corinthians 13:4-5)

3. selfishness (James 3:14-16)

4. frustration (Romans 8:18-19)

5. pride (Proverbs 21:24)


B. Consequences

1. profanity (Ephesians 5:4)

2. cursing others (Colossians 3:8-10)

3. violence (Job 5:2)

4. strife (Ephesians 4:30-32)

5. bitterness (see Romans 3:14)

6. contentiousness (Proverbs 29:22, 30:33)

7. misery (Proverbs 19:19)


C. Be Angry

1. it is only natural to be angry, but remember that its desire is to rule over us, so we have to learn to choose what we allow to make us angry and how we react 

a. “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil” (Psalm 37:8).

b. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27).

2. practice self-correction by calming yourself down while you decide whether to be angry

a. “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32).

b. “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).

c. “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

d. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).

3. frankly, there are reasons to get angry in this world, just as there were in the days of Jesus, but notice how his anger is usually provoked by injustice against others and not getting cut off on the freeway or passed over for the promotion (see Second Corinthians 7:8-13)

4. anger has degrees based on how much we let things get to us and how controlled our responses are; we are liable for how we handle provocations (Matthew 5:21-26)

5. whenever possible, we should try to work things out; “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15).


D. Self-control

1. make up your mind to prefer joy and patience over anger; “The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult” (Proverbs 12:16).

2. pray for strength: “If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for calmness will lay great offenses to rest” (Ecclesiastes 10:4).

3. be ruled by meekness, which means holding your peace and not always asserting your rights: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

4. avoid angry people: “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare” (Proverbs 22:24-25).

5. take charge of yourself or you will regret the consequences forever: “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).



God’s question to Jonah is legitimate for all of us to ask -- “Do you do well to be angry?”. What is our anger accomplishing when we express it without much temperance? Is it improving our lot, making us fee better, or just making things worse?


Questions for Review

  1. Why was Cain angry?
  2. Why was Balaam angry?
  3. Why was Jonah angry?
  4. Why was Jesus angry?
  5. What things make you angry?
  6. To what can anger lead?
  7. What can you do to control your anger?

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