This is the fourth of a multi-part series on the Seven Deadly Sins written by Father Robert Wills, Canon Theologian of the Mid-South Diocese, ICCEC. A new part will be posted on a regular basis. As a note, Canon Wills notes these are the Seven Deadly Sins recognized by a group of monks in the 5th Century.
4. ANGER—Emotionally intense Personal Irritation and Wrath
WHAT IS ANGER?
We all know the person who stands at the elevator door and jabs at the button repeatedly when the car fails to promptly arrive. In conversation, this individual finishes your sentences for you or glances constantly at the time. You are very cautious about what you do or say to people like this because the can ignite suddenly into anger.
These people are exhibiting what scientists call TYPE-A BEHAVIOR. Such people are motivated by either the desire for gain or by anger. They are always impatient, highly motivated to achievement, and of a quick temper. Anger or greed seems to be the primary motivations of type-A people.
TYPE-B BEHAVIOR, on the other hand is laid back, calm, slow to anger, and less concerned about time. Type-B people are motivated by either fear of loss or general anxiety, and are perceived by type-A people to be lazy and slow. Satan can use both of these personality types against each other, by accentuating the negative attributes of each one.
Sometimes Satan can actually kill a person by causing that individual to become stressed out to the point where anger or fear can effect organ failure and chronic diseases. Doctors have found that type-A people have a greater risk of heart attacks and strokes because hostility provokes the body to create unhealthy doses of chemicals which can damage the heart, blood vessels, and stomach. For hostile people anger can be a poison.
This emotion is rich in Hebrew terminology, being represented by seven words, but by only two in Greek. Because the nose was prominent in the hard breathing accompanying an increase in blood adrenalin, anger was commonly rendered by “nose,” The intensity of anger was expressed by such words as “fury,” “heat,” “rage,” “burn with
anger” or “be irritated,” “be grieved” The NT employed thymos to describe emotionally intense wrath and orge as the consequence of a moral judgment.
The anger of God is a deliberate reaction to all that violates his holy nature. His covenant people were commanded to imitate God’s holiness (Lev. 11:44), and when they failed to do so, they felt his anger, whether through natural circumstances (Num. 21:6) or other nations (Isa. 10:5). Even God’s chosen servants experienced God’s punishing wrath, as with Moses (Exod. 4:14), Miriam (Num. 12:9), Jonah (Jonah 1:4), and others. All violations of the covenant agreement exposed the Israelites to God’s anger, which could only be averted by true repentance.
Jesus became angry with his disciples when they forbade children to be brought to him (Mark 10:14) and with the hardhearted members of the Capernaum synagogue (Mark 3:5). Similar expressions of anger were directed at the Sadducees (Mark 12:24-27), the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23:13-36), and Peter (Matt. 16:23), and on each occasion represented his rejection of unrighteousness. Human anger could be selfish (Gen. 4:5; Num. 24:10), righteous (Exod. 16:20; II Sam. 12:5), or a combination of both (Gen. 34:7; II Sam. 13:21). In the NT anger is usually condemned (Gal. 5:19-21; Col. 3:8).
When does anger become sin?
Sinful anger is a destructive movement against another person for one’s own purposes and apart from God. It may take the following seven forms:
1. Violent thought or wishing of harm to someone.
2. Verbally lashing out at someone.
3. Backbiting: Talking against a person behind his or her back.
4. Murder or violent action.
5. Enjoying the destruction of someone that you don’t like.
6. Hatred and/or the desire for revenge at any cost.
7. Prejudice and racism.
In sinful anger the irritable response turns around a basically selfish set of assumptions about reality, so that what we perceive may not be what is really taking place. We may imagine hurts or become paranoid, becoming even more angry for no valid reason. The person with whom we are angry may have no idea why we are angry and may have done nothing to deserve our anger, which has become irrational.
Intense striving toward poorly defined goals, obsession with the way in which things are done, free-floating hostility toward other people, or a general fear of circumstances can exacerbate whatever dominant motivation is present, causing potential long-term problems. Free-floating anger or
free-floating fear seems to be the single greatest cause of pysical and psychological problems. Free-floating anger is a general hostility that is looking for someone to become the object of that anger. Free-floating fear is a general fear or anxiety that is looking for a circumstance or situation in order to manifest itself. Anger is usually directed toward people and fear is usually directed toward circumstances.
There are several stages that can lead to the development of free-floating anger.
Stage one: distrust of others– expecting someone to take advantage of you or expecting an adverse situation to arise. In other words, look for an excuse to be angry.
Stage two: feeling a general anger toward a person or fearful of the circumstances. Let things get you upset.
Stage three: Showing anger by lashing out verbally or physically or showing fear by withdrawing from the situation, while blaming and having anger toward those who we think caused the situation to develop.
Stage four: blame a person or group for your hurts and for your problems and imagine how your life would have been different if they had not done something bad to you.
Stage five: becoming irrational in our hatred and desire for revenge, the destruction of our perceived enemy, and a blaming of a person or group for our problems.
The Examples of the Anger of Cain and King Saul
Gen 4:5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
Gen 4:6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?
Gen 4:7 “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
Gen 4:8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
1 Sam 18:8 Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?”
1 Sam 18:9 So Saul eyed David from that day forward.
1 Sam 18:10 And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul’s hand.
1 Sam 18:11 And Saul cast the spear, for he said, “I will pin David to the wall!” But David escaped his presence twice.
1 Sam 18:12 Now Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, but had departed from Saul.
1 Sam 18:13 Therefore Saul removed him from his presence, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.
What Does God’s Word Say About Anger?
Psa 4:4 Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah
Psa 4:5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the LORD.
Prov 21:19 Better to dwell in the wilderness, Than with a contentious and angry woman.
Prov 22:24 Make no friendship with an angry man, And with a furious man do not go,
Prov 22:25 Lest you learn his ways And set a snare for your soul.
Prov 25:23 The north wind brings forth rain, And a backbiting tongue an angry countenance.
Prov 29:22 An angry man stirs up strife, And a furious man abounds in transgression.
Eccl 7:9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
Mat 5:22 “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
Mat 5:23 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
Mat 5:24 “leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Mat 5:25 “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.
Eph 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,
Eph 4:27 nor give place to the devil.
Eph 4:28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
Eph 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
How Can Anger Be Overcome?
1. Confess our anger as sin.
2. Forgive the person or group with whom we are angry.
3. Seek reconciliation with those who were the object of our anger.
4. Stop any overt actions such as snide remarks, backstabbing, discrimination, or other expressions of anger.
5. Discipline ourselves to see the world from God’s perspective, seeing those with whom we are angry the way God views them.