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What God Says about Anger in the Bible
(c) 2001 Doug Britton, LMFT (Permission granted to print for personal use)
This study is part of a series of free online studies on anger. It is adapted from Victory over Grumpiness, Irritation, and Anger.
Our anger is usually not righteous anger
Angry people usually justify their anger, saying it's someone else's fault they are angry. Yet the Bible repeatedly warns us against giving in to anger when we are upset by other people's words or actions.
There is such a thing as righteous anger. And sometimes we need to talk about problems or deal with dangerous situations. (Even at these times, we must exercise self-control.) Yet most of the time, our anger is not righteous. As James wrote, "Man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires" (James 1:20).
When we give in to anger, we often focus on our own welfare, comfort or happiness. Instead, we should be primarily concerned about other people's welfare and being a good witness for God.
As you can see in the following Scriptures, God does not want us to simply react emotionally to others' actions. Instead, we should respond with wisdom and a gentle spirit.
Verses warning us about anger
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fretit leads only to evil. (Psalm 37:8)
A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. (Proverbs 12:16)
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18)
A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless. (Proverbs 14:16)
A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated. (Proverbs 14:17)
A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly. (Proverbs 14:29)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. (Proverbs 15:18)
Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. (Proverbs 16:32)
A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. (Proverbs 17:27)
It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. (Proverbs 20:3)
Do not say, "I'll pay you back for this wrong!" Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you. (Proverbs 20:22)
Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28)
Mockers stir up a city, but wise men turn away anger. (Proverbs 29:8)
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. (Proverbs 29:11)
An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins. (Proverbs 29:22)
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, "Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment." But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment ... first go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:21-24)
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions. (Galatians 5:19-20)
"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-7)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)
Let your gentleness be evident to all. (Philippians 4:5)
But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:8)
And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (2 Timothy 2:24)
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20)
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
What does it mean to love your enemies?One of Jesus' most challenging commands is to love your enemies. But it's hard to know how to love your enemy. Read this free online Bible study on how to love your enemies for practical, life-giving tips.
More information on anger and irritationIn the bookstore
Victory over Grumpiness, Irritation, and Anger
Who Do You Think You Are?
Overcoming Jealousy and Insecurity: Biblical Steps to Living without Fear
Related Bible studies
Antidotes (preventive steps) to anger
Don't take things personally (even if someone wants you to take them personally)
What makes you angry? (Identify when you get angry)
Love your enemies
Bible studies on anger, grumpiness, and irritation
Bible studies on self-concept, self-esteem, and self-worth