When I was kid, around the age of ten, I used to get bouts of anger, and for the life of me I cannot remember what caused them, but I believe they came about through my inadequacy to express my thoughts clearly to adults with regard to my frustrations. The worst thing about those episodes was me venting my anger by slamming doors. That seemed to do me a world of good. I would find a quiet place and brood over my anger until it would subside. I can’t ever remember going back to my Mum and Dad and apologising for my outbursts.
The beautiful thing was my parents’ response. They just left me alone to cool off. They never once told me not to behave in that way. Being wise, they knew I would grow out of my temper tantrums, and sure enough I did, but it took much longer than ever I thought it would. Even in early adulthood I would have flushes of frustration, particularly when other people did foolish things. I reasoned their actions were a waste of time, effort, and sometimes a waste of resources and needless expense. Surely, just by applying a little reason, any sensible person would appreciate the error of his actions.
So what was my response to my anger flushes after becoming a Christian? I jolly well had to come to grips with them, as I was accountable to God for my thoughts and actions.
Now God is the source of all goodness, and He has every solution to problems encountered by His adopted children. He gives them His Holy Spirit to be their Enabler. Through and by the Spirit it is possible for the Christian to change his behaviour. He is called to renew his mind (Romans 12:2), and to be a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15) which is only possible by being born again through the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-6). I know this through personal experience and because God’s word, the Bible tells me so. Where there is a desire to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25) He is there with the Father’s children to give them a helping hand (John 14:26).
Emotions and feelings are deliberately subjugated by the Christian when he is being tempted to lose his cool under provocation. The last fruit of the Spirit as set out in Galatians 5:22 is ‘self-control’. It is not an immediate gift, but a ‘fruit’, i.e., something that comes after a period of growth. The tree has to be planted in the right place, looked after, fed and pruned; then it brings forth good fruit (Matthew 12:33). To state the obvious, a Christian’s fruit comes as a result of being in the True Vine (John 15:1-8), Jesus Christ.
Is it legitimate for a Christian to be angry? We read of King David being angry with the enemies of God. He hated them (Psalm 139:21). David saw himself as a warrior acting at God’s behest (Psalm 18:32-50). He was the commander of God’s forces on earth and it was his duty to obey his Supreme Commander, the King of heaven and earth. On that premise, we too who are Christians, can legitimately be angry with the enemies of God, but at the same time we are to forgive those who vent their anger on us (Ephesians 4:26) because we are on God’s side.
God’s Righteous Anger
God’s righteous anger is reserved for those who trespass against Him (Numbers 32:13-15; Psalm 7:11; 18:7). They deserve and get everlasting punishment (Romans 1:18-2:9). We who are pardoned from our sins are amazed at His great love for us (Ephesians 2:4), because we deserve His anger. Instead He sent His Son to die on a cross, to suffer death and hell on our part and to rise from the dead, so that we also will rise from the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Afterwards we shall dwell where there will be no anger in the new earth that God will create (Revelation 21:1-4).