You can be angry, but do not sin.
Speak in your heart on your bed,
and keep silent.
Why do you suppose God makes a such a big deal about anger? Why are we told more than once we can be angry, but not to let it lead to sin?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the kind of sin that comes out of anger. Specifically, this comes to mind when I think about parenting—something I will be charged with before God beginning in 2021. I have felt from experience and know from the experiences of friends and family as well that words spoken or actions taken by a parent or authority figure in anger often leave the greatest marks, resonating with us far, far after the speaker’s anger has cooled. How does that saying go? It takes a moment’s misdeed to unravel a lifetime of trust. What we do in one outburst of anger can have far-reaching consequences.
I think too, of how much of this God has seen throughout the scope of human history. How many people lashing out in a fit of boiling anger changed the course of human history? Cain was angry, so he killed Abel; Joseph’s brothers were angry, so they threw him in a pit; Moses was angry, so he broke the stone tablets and smashed the rock he should’ve spoken to; men stoned Stephen in anger. Kings went to war, friends wounded friends, on and on—all because of anger.
Proverbs also warns many times about the consequences of anger, especially when it comes from a fool. There’s no doubt about it, God wants us to know what happens when we give full vent to our anger, letting it control us rather than us controlling it.
In a time when it’s sometimes easier to catch someone’s anger than their grace, let’s stand apart as followers of Christ by being “James 1:19 People” – quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, like our God. When we do feel anger, let’s ensure it’s a righteous anger, not rooted in our flawed humanity but in the flawless heart of Yahweh. And when that anger comes, we must control our bodies and tongues, not turning that anger into a weapon that causes us to sin, but instead letting it fuel us to bring about a good, godly, and righteous outcome.
Let’s not wound in our anger, but restore what is right and good. Let’s not leave scars, but lessons. And in our anger, let’s never give into sin. Let’s enter a place of pause and peace instead—a selah—collect ourselves, and from there, bring about a healthy resolution to the situation.