The Anger of a Good Man

Be angry and do not sin; let not the sun go down upon your wrath.
- Ephesians 4:26 (Young’s Literal Translation)

It amazes me how often Christians regard being angry as a sin, in and of itself. As if the emotion itself were a sin. But we see over and over again in Scripture that God Himself experiences anger, and we even see this in the person of Jesus Christ.

A man, if he is a good man, and one who is emotionally balanced, will experience anger in this life. Jesus turned tables, and the prophets and apostles spoke harshly to evil men, even calling them wolves and sons of snakes. Notice also that such accusations require godly judgment (a judgment that is rational and wise), contrary to those who claim that we should never make any judgments whatsoever.

The Necessity of Moral Judgment — For the New Christian Intellectual

But we also must be careful not to let anger control us. It will do us no good.

For a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God.

- James 1:20 NASB

Fire and Anger

The closest image that comes to my mind to describe my thoughts are the Firebenders from the TV series Avatar, The Last Airbender. During the show, we learn that the Fire Nation attacked the other nations, and the Fire Lord, the ruler of the Fire Nation, is seeking to conquer the world.

In the fictional world of Avatar, there are special people called “benders” who can control either water, fire, earth, or air. And there is one person in each generation called The Avatar who can control all four elements.

While this show has obvious Pagan elements, such as reincarnation, it’s a show with a lot of good lessons to learn from. And, as the Apostle Paul drew analogies and lessons from the Pagan Philosophers who were known in his day, such as Plato and the altar on Mars Hill, I will do the same here.

Firebending is used often as a metaphor and a parallel to anger, and the main hero, Aang, is told that if he does not learn to control fire properly, he can cause serious and permanent damage to the people that he loves.

During the series, Aang learns to control the other three “elements” but he becomes terrified of fire, developing a complex relationship with Firebending. He tries to suppress this part of his identity until he learns towards the end of the series that Firebending was intended to bring life to people, not destruction.

Another character, Prince Zuko, the main antagonist through most of the series, is seen to struggle to control his anger, and he is driven by a desire to seek honor so that he can win the love of his father. His means of achieving this goal is to conquer Aang, the main hero in the series.

Prince Zuko and Avatar Aang, as they learn the ancient secrets of Firebending

Practical Application

There are those who see Christians get angry at the evil in this world and then accuse them of being in sin for expressing anger, or even for feeling anger as an emotion. But given the Biblical examples mentioned earlier, on what Biblical or rational grounds can such a view be justified? How can one accuse a Christian of being in sin for experiencing anger when the Bible says “be angry and do not sin”?

Was Elijah the prophet angry when babies were being sacrificed on the altars of the Baals? Was he angry when an evil king and a wicked queen ruled over the land?

And are these people to claim that God and his apostles and prophets were in sin when they became angry at the evil that was happening on the Earth? But I seem to have forgotten: Christians in our time are supposed to “agree to disagree” on the “nonessentials,” such as the morality of sacrificing babies. How enlightened we have become!

If you experience anger in this world for any reason, do not be angry at yourself or be ashamed for experiencing anger. Anger is generally a healthy and good emotion. I am more concerned about those who never experience anger than those who experience healthy anger without knowing what to do with it.

On the other hand, if your anger is out of balance, or if it is becoming a burden in any way, there is nothing wrong with seeking Biblical council, or even proper medication to help your body to find balance. But even here, take stewardship over your mind and body, and do not become angry at yourself merely for feeling anger.

If you think you need help in learning how to process this emotion, like any other, realize there is no shame in seeking help in managing and processing your emotions. Anger can be like fire — it is a good thing, and it can be powerful, but it must be used correctly. Learning how to tame both fire and anger often requires proper learning.

Even Avatar Aang sought help in learning how to firebend, and how to deal with his emotions. He sought coaches who could not only help him to tame his bending powers and his emotions but who could also help him to harness them to accomplish good things.

Aang used coaches to learn how to control and use fire. Athletes seek help to tame, grow and use their physical abilities. Students seek professors to learn how to tame and use their minds. So why is it any different to learn how to tame our emotions to be used for good?

A firebender can grow to use his powers for more and more good. It’s not just about learning not to cause harm. In the same way, a man can learn to use anger as a tool to achieve greatness, and he can grow in his use of this tool.

Like fire, electricity, or uranium, emotions can be used as raw material or raw energy. Treat an emotion as a tool of creation, rather than merely as a vice to be suppressed.

I am personally reading books about various emotions, such as anxiety, and considering talking to a professional about how to better manage my emotions. Even though I think I control anger well, I plan to include this in one of the emotions that I learn how to control to a higher degree.

Closing Thoughts

There is a lot of evil in this world, and a righteous man ought to be angry. When a Christian hears about abortion or about sexual immorality being pushed on children, he ought to be angry. And he ought never to have “unity” with so-called Christians who support this sort of evil, or with those who excuse or trivialize these evils by calling them “differences of political preference” (among other such trivializing nonsense).

But that anger does no good if it is bottled up. To bottle up anger, even justified anger, will cause it to explode — and usually at the worst possible time. Anger must be channeled, and it must be channeled in the right way.

Here is more verse on this topic: The Bible says not to befriend a man given to anger (Proverbs 22:24–25). I have personally said goodbye to close friends because they would not learn how to control their anger. They wanted to deny and ignore their anger, but their anger controlled them. Some of their anger was good and justified, but it was not being controlled or processed as it should have been, so for the sake of my own emotional well-being and my own safety I had to put up boundaries or say goodbye to these friends.

24 Do not make friends with a person given to anger,
Or go with a hot-tempered person,
25 Or you will learn his ways
And find a snare for yourself.
Proverbs 22:24–25

What hope then can a man have? The only hope a man can have in truly overcoming sin is to turn to Jesus Christ. Only Christ can make a man into a new creation. A Christian will still battle with sin, even after Christ has saved him, but as Christ changes us we will become more and more like Him. As a man is sanctified his relationship to his emotions — including anger — will develop to maturity.

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G.S. Muse

G.S. Muse

G.S. Muse, also known as GreenSlugg on YouTube or simply as “Greg” is a lab technician, youtuber, author, and blogger. His work can be found at GreenSlugg.com