Monday, October 12, 2015

31Days - Anger (Mine)

This morning I was told, "Conflict isn't wrong. It's how you handle conflict." That really struck me, and I thought about writing about the fear of conflict today and using that as one of my points. And then I remembered I had already written on my fear of conflict. Oops. Oh well. As I continued to chew on it some, though, I realized... part of my fear of conflict is due to another fear on my list.

My fear for Day Twelve:

I am afraid of anger.

Any anger. It doesn't matter whether it's mine; whether it's someone else's directed at me; or even someone else's directed at yet someone else (for instance, my husband's anger toward a co-worker or boss). That third-party anger in no way touches me. And yet I withdraw. My heart screams that anger is something to be avoided at all costs. So there's a real fear. But what's the real Truth? Truth with a capital T?

I think for today I want to explore the same concept my counselor emphasized to me about conflict: Anger isn't wrong. It's how you handle anger. So today I'm going to focus on the fear of my own anger.

A search on the word anger turns up pages (and pages) of scriptures – most of them referencing God's anger.

Behold, the name of the LORD comes from a remote place;
Burning is His anger and dense is His smoke;
His lips are filled with indignation
And His tongue is like a consuming fire....
(Isaiah 30:27)

The LORD is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
(Psalms 145:8)

God feels anger.

Thankfully, He is also gracious and merciful. He is slow to anger. But slow to anger does not mean, in any way, that He has no anger. Isaiah 30:27 as well as many other verses clearly speak of His burning anger.

In the New Testament, Jesus reacted to the money changers who were cheating those coming to bring sacrifices. He proclaimed that the money changers had turned his Father's house of worship into a den of thieves.

And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
(John 2:15)

Jesus feels anger.

I've been taught it was a righteous anger, though. Jesus never sinned, after all, so it wasn't a sin. So we've seen that God and Jesus both experience anger. We are made in His image, so it would make sense that we feel the same emotions.

But... honestly... all I could think as a kid was that if I had shown that kind of anger in front of my parents, it would not have gone well. So... anger was okay for Jesus... but not so much for Jenn. It was okay for Him because... well, He was God. He was perfect.

New Testament scriptures seemed to confirm the belief that anger was something I shouldn't express:

But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.
(Colossians 3:8)

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
(Ephesians 4:31)

Sounds pretty clear, right? Anger = bad.

But then you run into this verse and it seems to contradict those above:

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger....
(Ephesians 4:26)

We can be angry and not sin!

Huh? How does that fit with the first two verses? I did some looking, and what I found is that there are actually two different Greek words in these verses that are translated as "anger." The Greek word translated as anger in first two verses carries the implication of punishment. It's not just emotion; it's emotion that results in action against the object of the anger. The Greek word translated "anger" in Ephesians 4:26, though, doesn't have that same implication. It's just emotion. Passionate, maybe. But there's no implication of punishment. We don't have the right to exact that kind of punishment. God does, but we don't. We do, however, have the right to be angry.

Then Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did not eat food on the second day of the new moon, for he was grieved over David because his father had dishonored him.
(1 Samuel 20:34)

Jonathon was fiercely angry with his own father.

David was Jonathon's friend. Jonathon was actually in line (as far as family lineage) to be the next king over Israel. God had anointed David, though. And Jonathon was okay with that. But his dad (Saul) wasn't. Jonathon had just figured out how deeply Saul's hatred and jealousy burned. Saul had asked why David wasn't at the feast. Jonathon answered that David was with his own family and Saul fell into a rage, calling Jonathon a traitor and the "son of a perverse, rebellious woman." Then he tells Jonathon to fetch David so he could have him put to death. Jonathon stood up to his dad and asked, "Why should he be slain? What has he done?" Saul had no answer other than to throw his spear at Jonathon. Wow. Some dad!

I never really thought about this part of the story before, but Jonathon's dad has insulted his mother ("son of a..."), and threatened his friend. All in a conversation over dinner – a party, actually. And Jonathon is angry. Fiercely angry. He shows his displeasure by getting up from the table and leaving his father's party without eating a bite. He doesn't retaliate. He doesn't exchange barbs. He expresses his anger... but he does not sin!

Note: Since I've already talked about facing conflict, I'd like to say that I don't think Jonathon strayed into passively avoiding conflict by his departure. He had already shown his willingness to stand up to his father and question his actions. He was enforcing boundaries. "It's not okay to throw your spear at me. I do not have to put myself at risk." He acted honorably towards a dishonorable man. He honored his father; expressed his anger; protected his friend; and did not sin.

We can act honorably while expressing anger and not sin.

Father God, it's so hard for me to deal with anger. I push it down and refuse to acknowledge it. I know that's another lie of omission. But honestly, I don't even know what to pray. It still seems wrong to ask for help in expressing anger. I know there is a time and a place where it needs to be done, though – no matter how much I'd just like to pretend it's not there. So help me instead to express anger in a healthy and honorable way. I want to always act with grace and truth.

Fear: I am afraid of being angry.


  • God feels anger. (Isaiah 30:27; Psalms 145:8 and many, many others!)
  • Jesus feels anger. (John 2:15)
  • We can be angry and not sin! (Ephesians 4:26)
  • Jonathon was fiercely angry with his own father. (1 Samuel 20:34)
  • We can act honorably while expressing anger and not sin. (1 Samuel 20)


Note: This post is part of a 31-day writing challenge. Click here to see the rest of the posts on my 31 Days of Fear (and Truth).


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Mandi! I was a little worried about this one. It's kind of tough to say "Anger isn't bad; there is a time for anger." Even just searching for a graphic to use caused me to doubt myself. So much out there that says anger is bad. And I know that for a lot of people, it IS a problem and it needs to be reigned in and controlled. There are a lot of us who repress it in an unhealthy way as well, and I need to address that in my own life. But I was also scared of being someone's excuse for out of control anger.... tough subject for me! So thanks for the encouragement! :)