Anger in the Bible: A Helpful Corrective for Unhealthy Anger

If you’ve ever felt angry at someone or a situation, you probably know how powerful the emotion of anger is. It can color your perception of a situation or person, and it can motivate you to take action to fix whatever has gone wrong. As we look at anger in the Bible, we see that the action may or may not be appropriate, and it may or may not be wise.

For example, you can decide to start a campaign to address child hunger in your city because you’re angered at the injustice of it all, or you can get out of your car and assault a fellow motorist because their terrible driving triggered you. The same emotion can drive helpful and constructive behavior, but it can propel you toward harming others just as easily.

Anger in the Bible

The Bible presents a complex picture of anger. Being angry itself isn’t necessarily a problem because anger is a natural emotion whose reality you ought to embrace. Your anger lets you know that somewhere in your life something is not what it should be, so you should pay attention to it. However, because anger is such a powerful emotion, care should be taken not to be overwhelmed by anger and say or do the first thing that comes to mind.

This nuanced approach to anger is captured in two key Bible verses. In Ephesians Paul writes: “‘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 4:26-27, NIV) Being angry is not the same thing as sinning or falling short of God’s intentions for your life.

You can be angry, but what matters is what you then do with those feelings and thoughts. You can do constructive and godly things with it, or you can slander others or cause them physical harm. Holding onto anger for too long is also problematic, as that can affect how you relate to others. Lingering in anger longer than necessary is a recipe for relationship problems.

Another Bible verse to consider is in James: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20, NIV) Anger is a visceral impulse that demands immediate attention. When you feel angry, you feel like you want to do something about it now.

Being slow to anger and allowing yourself to first listen to the other person and not respond hastily indicates that you, not your anger, are in control.

What is it about ‘human anger’ that’s so problematic? Anger can stem from an entirely self-centered place, and we can leverage it to do terrible things to others. That’s why anger must take a back seat to other considerations.

What James says here echoes another Bible passage that tells us about God’s character: “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (Psalms 86:15, NIV) This verse also comes up in Exodus 34, indicating what God is like, and we are called to imitate Him. Being slow to anger is a sign of a godly character.

Learning to deal with anger

Anger and the things that cause anger are a fact of life. It’s important to acknowledge that reality, and to learn how to rein anger in so that its expression is constructive and healthy. If you struggle with controlling anger, or if your life is marked by feeling angry most or all the time, you may have an anger problem that needs attention. You can begin dealing with anger through a few simple self-help techniques, which include the following:

Exercise, which helps you take your mind off whatever made you angry, and helps you work off the adrenalin and cortisol in your system.

Take a breath. Don’t respond immediately to an email or comment; count to ten and breathe in deeply to calm yourself. You can even walk away if necessary

Use humor to diffuse the situation. It’s okay to laugh at yourself for taking things too seriously.

Learn your anger triggers. When you know what makes you angry, you can better prepare for those situations.

With the help of an anger management therapist, you can learn to handle anger better, grow in empathy toward others, become a more effective communicator, and reap the health and relational benefits of having your anger well in hand.

Your therapist can help you better understand the roots of your anger. They can also provide you with added tools to disrupt unhelpful patterns of thought and behavior that fuel angry thoughts. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help today to get your anger under control. The counselors at Huntington Beach Christian Counseling are here to help. Browse our online counselor directory to find a therapist for you.

“Open Bible”, Courtesy of Aaron Burden,, CC0 License; “Studying the Bible”, Courtesy of Aaron Owens,, CC0 License; “Bible”, Courtesy of Timothy Eberly,, CC0 License


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