|Is all anger bad?
All anger is not bad. The dictionary defines anger as “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” We can say that anger is a feeling developed from annoyances, displeasures or hostilities caused by circumstances, other people, or us. To me, anger was a synonym to being bad. Why? Because I pictured anger as a red-faced individual ready to harm someone or destroy something. There is truth to my understanding of anger but its partial. Yes, uncontrolled anger can result in bad behaviors/actions. Anger is a feeling that can cause harm if not dealt with in a healthy way. At the same time, anger is a natural feeling that can be used as a motivator to bring forth needed change.
Ephesians 4:26 states, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Here we see that anger can arise in us. It does not address anger as bad or good but unresolved anger can lead to hurtful choices to ourselves and others. Truthfully, we all have our angry moments, but how we deal with that emotion determines if our anger will be seen as bad or good. We have the power to guide this emotion to bring harm or be beneficial. The MacArthur Study Bible states, “anger can be either good or bad, depending on motive and purpose. Even righteous anger can turn to bitterness, so it should be set aside by the end of each day. If anger is prolonged it may become hostile.”
Anger can develop when people are annoyed or displeased by an individual or a situation, or when people are hostile toward us or others. We are not always the recipients of hostility but can become angry at injustices. In the bible when Moses killed the Egyptian for mistreating a Hebrew worker, we see an example of anger surfacing as a result of injustice. This is an example of letting “the sun go down on your anger.” Over a period of time, anger festered within Moses at the site of mistreated workers. The feeling is normal but how he dealt with it was not. He chose to react with cruelty which was something he was condemning the Egyptian of doing.
James 1:20 expresses two kinds of anger, one is the anger of man and the righteous anger of God. Referring to the story of Moses, we see the anger of man when he takes the life of an Egyptian. Although the motive for the anger is understandable, the reaction to the anger is not. Jon Bloom in the article How can we be angry and not sin, wrote: “Righteous anger is being angry at what makes God angry.” Yes, God was displeased by the Israelites’ persecution. But His dealing with it is different from the approach Moses took. We see that God’s anger is slow to develop. His anger is not unfair. He was patient with Pharaoh by giving him several opportunities to release the Israelites. God’s anger was delayed but it was demonstrated in the end. Do not be confused and believe that God always delays His anger. As stated in the article by Bloom, God’s righteous anger can be demonstrated quickly when needed.
In There Is Hope for The Heart June Hunt states that anger surfaces as a result of our frustration. Anger is a result of “over unmet expectations of yourself or of others.” Unrealized goals, unrealistic expectations of self and others can allow anger to develop. Anger as a result of an unrealized goal could be a justified feeling, but not for unrealistic expectations of self and others. The latter brings hurt to self and to those whom we have set unreachable expectations. I am not saying to remove healthy boundaries but examine what we expect of ourselves and others.
Hurt or harm caused by others can also provoke anger. We have an innate desire to be cared for and loved. When those desires are violated, anger could be the result of those violations.
Anger is not the actual problem but what causes it to be felt and how we manage its presence. When anger surfaces, we need to examine what caused this emotion. We could find answers to what the real issue is and how to better address them.
Things to keep in mind to better understand the anger.
1. What has developed this feeling?
2. Is there a justification for my anger?
3. What actions do I intend to take as a result of this emotion?
4. What outcome/s will I get if my actions are taken?
These questions could give us a better perspective on how to manage/control our anger in a healthy way. This too can indicate if the anger is of man or the righteous anger of God. Whatever the answer is for us, we can then choose better ways of dealing with our anger. Not all anger is bad but how we choose to exhibit that feeling can be bad.
June, Hunt. There Is Hope For The Heart. Hope International Publishing, 2017.