As a child, I remember being told to stop being angry; a lot. But I do not remember being given any instructions on how not to be angry, just that I am to stop. In time I learned how to control my anger. Or did I stuff my emotion? Either way, I believed anger at being a sin, and the way to not sin was to stop being angry.
Is anger a sin?
The danger of believing the lie that anger is a sin will cause us to deal with anger negatively. We know not to throw temper tantrums. We’ve learned that from an early age, whether we have stopped throwing them or not.
But the opposite of throwing a fit can be just as bad, and maybe worse in some cases. I chose to hold anger in and stuff it down deep. That is how I have dealt with anger for most of my life.
Anger held in will eventually come out. We can only hold in for so long before it has to go somewhere, and you can be sure the explosion will not be pretty.
When we don’t deal with the anger, it festers in our thoughts. Those thoughts become too much to bear, so we stuff them. Stuffed emotions come out in our actions and speech.
I stuffed my anger because I did not want to sin. The truth is, anger is not a sin, but how we react can be sinful.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26, ESV).
What does the Bible say about anger?
Several passages in the Bible deal with anger. In Proverbs, we read how a person with good sense is slow to anger, but the one who gives full vent is a fool.
But for this blog, I will focus on Ephesians 4:26-32. Ephesians is a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus, but I believe these words have application today.
I don’t believe that Paul was saying that anger is a sin in this passage. He does refer to specific actions as being a sin, though.
Paul warns them to not let unwholesome talk proceed from their mouth (v29). How often do we open our mouth and say the wrong things when we are angry? I know I have more times than I can count.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31, ESV).
Stuffing our emotions of anger causes us to live in bitterness.
So how do we not sin when we are angry?
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32, ESV).
In this passage, the Apostle Paul is calling us to choose. Will we continue to sin in our anger, or will we be tenderhearted and forgive as God forgave us? The choice is ours.