Anger: Biblical Foundations and Puritan Perspectives

Anger is a complex emotion. The Westminster Bible Dictionary defines it as follows: “Anger, a strong emotion of displeasure against a real or supposed injury. It is not evil in itself, but when inordinate and excessive it becomes evil. It is ascribed to God (Ps. 7:11; 90:11) and to good men (Neh. 5:6; 2 Pet. 2:7, 8) in the sense of displeasure against sin. Anger, degenerating into malignity and revenge, is severely denounced (Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8).

 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus highlighted the danger of anger, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:21-24, excerpted) In this passage, Jesus recognized the tremendous damage that anger can cause in relationships and even prioritized reconciliation above worship. At this very moment, are you free to worship or do you need to be reconciled with someone?

 

The Puritan John Trapp (1601-1669) described anger as a “tender virtue” and noted that “by reason of our own unskillfulness [it] may be easily corrupted and made dangerous.” What are some ways that you can grow more skillful in nurturing righteous anger and preventing or putting off fits of sinful anger? (Gal. 5:16-24) The apostle Paul, in the middle of his exhortation to put away all anger, wrath, and malice, urged his readers to engage in heart-searching conference, saying, “Do not lie to one another…” (Col. 3:5-10) Seek out the counsel of a close friend, a person of understanding, who can help you identify and address your struggle with anger. (Prov. 20:5; 27:9)

 

So much of our spiritual growth hinges on our walking with close friends, spiritual companions who can pray for us, encourage us, and hold us accountable. Have a blessed week and we will see you on Sunday. D. V.

 

Love in Christ,

Pastor Dale