Is it wrong to get angry with your kids? Doesn’t God get mad? What does it look like to be angry without sinning? Join AMBrewster as he helps Christian parents by explaining how God has used the Word to teach him about Christ-honoring anger.
Check out 5 Ways to Support TLP.
Like us on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.
Follow AMBrewster on Twitter.
Follow us on Pinterest.
Subscribe on YouTube.
Need some help? Write to us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
Click "Read More" for today’s Episode Notes and Transcript.
To download this document, please right-click and select "Save Image As."
Welcome to the number one podcast on iTunes for Christian parents.
If this is your first time with Truth.Love.Parent., be sure to start back on our pilot season and take this parenting journey with us.
Six seasons later we’re still searching God’s Word for the Truth our families need today. That’s what makes our content evergreen.
Of course, you can also hop around and listen to episodes that look interesting to you, but listening to an entire season is beneficial because the episode compliment each other.
You can find out what the seasons are about by going to TruthLoveParent.com and clicking on the “podcast” tab.
So, thank you to all of you for joining us and rejoining us; let’s jump into our discussion for today.
Is it okay to get mad?
Well, let me start by saying that episode 48 will be a nice companion to today’s topic. It’s called “When to Raise Your Voice: is yelling ever appropriate?” If we establish that it is okay to get mad, then we’re definitely going to have to discuss what that looks like.
And, I suppose the best way to start is to just get right to the point and acknowledge that getting mad isn’t the problem.
Anger isn’t inherently sinful.
Why do I say that?
1. God is perfect and He gets mad.
I Kings 11:9 says, “And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel,”
In Deuteronomy 9:8-21 we read two interesting things. The first is toward the beginning of the passage. Moses is talking to the Israelites and says, “The Lord was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you.” And toward the end of the passage he also says, “The Lord was so angry with Aaron that he was ready to destroy him.”
Now, some people foolishly see a difference between the “harsh, just” God of the Old Testament and the peaceful and merciful God of the New Testament. But I need to say that such observations do little more than prove one’s ignorance.
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. This is why Jesus told many parables where the God-figure became angry.
This is also why in Mark 11:15-17, “And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.””
This event is discussed in all of the Gospels, and in John 2, we’re told that before cleansing the temple, Jesus made Himself a whip.
If you’re uncertain about this whole Jesus-throwing-people-out-of-the-temple, you can listen to our very first TLP Snippet. It’s called “When Do I Get to Flip Tables?” and it addresses this very event.
So, the first reason I conclude that anger is not a sin is that God get’s angry.
2. The second reason anger can’t be a sin is that God commands us to be angry.
In Psalm 4:4-5 we’re told, “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.”
This Hebrew word can be translated enraged like in Ezekiel 16:43 where God says, “Because you have not remembered the days of your youth, but have enraged me with all these things, therefore, behold, I have returned your deeds upon your head, declares the Lord God.”
But it can also be translated “quake” and most often is translated “tremble.” As you can tell, this is very picturesque understanding of rage.
And then in the New Testament we’re told the exact same thing in Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
The Greek word here is exactly what you’d expect: it means to be provoked and aroused to anger.
Now, both of those verses have a very important thing in common. They command us to be angry, yet without sin.
So, what then do we do with passages like Psalm 37:8 which says, “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil”?
And what about the passage at which we looked on our last episode when we were talking about family joking. We read Matthew 5:21-23 and made the application that anger veiled in jokes is sin. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
And it’s that question right there on which I want to spend the remainder of our time.
Let’s go back to our two Psalms passages.
Psalm 4:4-5 says, “Be angry, and do not sin;”
Psalm 37:8 says, “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!”
First — and if you’ve been listening to the show for any amount of time you will remember — we need to look into the original language.
Nowhere in Scripture are we commanded not to be the Hebrew word for Angry in Psalm 4, but we are commanded not to be a different Hebrew word for angry like in Psalm 37.
The second word, the one from which we’re told to refrain, shows up in Genesis 2:7. “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” Our word for anger was instead translated “nostril.”
The idea is this, in Hebrew the concept of anger and the flaring of the nostrils became synonymous. And when coupled with another Hebrew word can mean “longsuffering” which had the original idea of being “long of nostril.” The concept being that it took a long time to get the nostrils going.
So, on one side we have a word that means tremble and quake, and on the other side we have a word that refers to the nose. I have to admit, if I knew Hebrew better this would likely be more instructive. For our purposes though, I decided to turn to Proverbs and found something very interesting.
The first thing I noticed is that anger is not condemned in Proverbs. Instead, the Proverbs encourages us to be “slow to anger.” (Proverbs 14:29, 15:18, 16:32, 19:11)
Ecclesiastes 7:9 is similar in that it tells us not to be quick to become angry. James 1:19 also tells us to be “slow to anger.”
And the people who are condemned in Proverbs for their anger are people who are “given to anger.” (Proverbs 22:24 & 29:22)
I found this very helpful, but it still didn’t fulfill my curiosity, so I turned to the New Testament. The only downside of this choice is that the Greeks had fewer words for anger, so basically there was no linguistic distinction between the anger we’re commanded not to have in Matthew 5 and the anger that Jesus exhibited.
But while I was in the book of James, I stumbled upon the answer. I referenced earlier that James 1:19 tells us to be slow to anger, but then verse 20 says, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
The answer became obvious.
God’s anger always produces God’s purposes, but man’s anger does not. Therefore, if we are to have anger according to God’s purposes, it would have to be anger without sin.
So, next two questions are these: 1. What’s the difference between God’s anger and man’s anger, and 2. How do we as men and women manage to have the anger of God?
As you read through the Bible and see how many times anger and wrath are used of God, you should note a definite theme. Someone has made themselves the enemy of God by rebelling against His will and is standing the need of judgement.
When we understand these three qualifications, I believe we’ll understand what righteous anger is.
1. God is angry with His enemies.
Do you remember our study in love? Love and hate are not emotions. They’re choices. And just like love is a choice to live for another’s highest interest, hate is a choice to set yourself against someone.
Well, no one has ever drawn a more definitive line in the sand than God. When we choose to make ourselves His enemy, He reciprocates.
2. God is angry with rebellion.
This is similar to the first, but focuses on a necessary point. Do I believe that all sin offends God? Yes. Do I believe it can be said that all sin angers God? Yes. However, it appears to me that high-handed, direct disobedience draws out God’s wrath to a greater degree than the sin Christians are prone to commit in their weakness.
Now, we don’t have time today to detail the types of sin that may fall into this category, but it’s important to note — just like we discussed in the “Teaching Your Children to Obey” series — that motivation is everything.
We all sin to satisfy ourselves and feed our lusts, but when a believer is confronted by God’s Truth, the norm is that we submit and repent. However, the Hard-Hearted (like we discussed in “The Four Children” series) and the scorners and scoffers and mockers refuse to submit to correction.
John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
Obviously those who refuse God’s gracious gift of salvation are the objects of His anger.
Romans 1 tells us that, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Anyone who actively suppresses the truth will be an object of God’s wrath.
This means that our anger against sin in general needs to be checked. We’ll talk about this more in a minute.
3. Lastly, God is angry in situations that demand His judgment.
This facet is extremely important because of the doctrine of Christian judgment.
We need to understand that God is the only Judge of men.
The word frequently translated “judge” in the New Testament means to condemn and punish. It takes the position of judge, jury, and executioner.
The prohibitions in the Bible against judging always refer to judging people. In Luke 6:37 Jesus says, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”
In I Corinthians 4:3 Paul says, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.”
God the Father is the ultimate condemner of men. Jesus Himself even abdicates this responsibility. In John 8:15 He says, "You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.”
However, the occasions in Scripture where we are told to judge deal with judging behaviors, words, and decisions.
John 7:24, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
I Corinthians 5:11-12 reads, “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
Then the very next chapter starts off this way: “When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!”
This is a large subject, but suffice it to say, we must actively judge actions and attitudes, but we are not to pass final judgment on people.
This too must have huge import on our practical application, but for now we have to answer the second part of the question. We know what the anger of God is, what’s the anger of man?
Suffice it to say, the anger of man puts himself at the center of the offense. The anger of man is directed at his enemies who rebel against him and on whom he pours our his judgment.
This is the anger we’re commanded to reject in Psalm 37:8. “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil”?
This is the anger in Matthew 5:21-23. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
The anger of man is unreasonable, unkind, selfish, and sinful.
Okay, so we answered “What’s the difference between God’s anger and man’s anger?”
Let’s finish with “How do we as men and women manage to have the anger of God?”
1. God must be at the center.
If we’re angry because our spouse sinned against us, we’re sinning.
If we’re angry because our children rebelled against us, we’re sinning.
If we’re judging people in our anger, we’re sinning.
My anger is only appropriate when it’s motivated by the fact that someone is rebelling against God.
This concept must temper our anger.
Should we get angry when our son forgets to empty the trash? Should we get angry when our daughter accidentally spills her chocolate milk on us? Should we get angry when we find porn on our spouse’s computer? Should we get angry when someone offends us?
The resounding answer is no.
I can even say that we shouldn’t get angry when our child states that they don’t believe in God.
Our first recourse must be to lovingly share God’s Truth. Only after someone has decidedly rebelled against the Truth, refused to submit, and decidedly set himself against God is the potential of anger an option.
So, number one, God must be at the center.
2. We must make a wise choice to be angry, not an emotional choice to be angry.
Consider James 1:19-21, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
To to this, James says, “21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
In order to wisely choose to be angry we must . . .
A. Be slow to speak.
B. Be quick to hear.
C. Reject filthiness — This is the only time this word is used in the Bible, and it carries the idea of anything that is defiled.
D. Reject wickedness — The concept of abundant wickedness has simply to do with an overflowing of sinfulness.
E. Receive God’s Truth.
F. Receive God’s Truth in humility.
And I believe all six of these points are wrapped up in our original verses from Psalm 4 and Ephesians 4.
Psalm 4:4, “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.”
Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
Psalm 4 was the original command, and I believe Ephesians 4 provides a commentary on original.
What does it mean to ponder in my own heart on my bed and be silent? Paul explains it by saying we shouldn’t let the sun set on our anger. Why not? Why the time constraint?
I believe if we’re doing our best to see the situation through God’s eyes, divine anger within a human is not sustainable. It must come to and end in one of four ways:
1. It ends when the person submits to Truth.
2. It ends when God judges the person.
3. If God doesn’t judge the person right away, it ends when we leave the person’s presence. I believe God uses the idea of being in bed to illustrate that the rebel is probably not with us.
4. If God doesn’t judge the person right away, it ends when the evening comes. We are not the ultimate judges, there is no benefit in continuing to be angry when we’re supposed to be sleeping. This also provides application for when our spouse is rebelling against God. Even though they’re not repentant, even though they’ve not yet received God’s judgment, and even though they’re still in the room with me, I will abdicate my divine anger in light of the fact that God is the all powerful judge, and I am the exhausted Ambassador.
So, is it okay to get mad? Yes, it is. But we must be angry about the right things, in the right way, for the right reason, in the right power.
And, if you’re paying attention, you understand that I just modified our definition for obedience from “Teaching Our Children to Obey.”
Why is that? Because God wants us to obey in our anger. Therefore, we must do the right thing in the right way for the right reason in the right power.
Being angry about the right thing requires that we get angry about high-handed, direct disobedience in deliberate defiance of God.
Being angry in the right way requires us to carefully ponder the situation, listening in silence in order to determine whether or not this is a sin worthy of divine anger. However, though we judge the behavior, we don’t judge the person. That’s God’s job.
Of course, as parents, the Lord may use us as part of the judging process. We still need to give Christ-honoring consequences. I encourage you to listen to episode 74, “Punishment versus Correction.” That will be a great followup to today’s discussion.
Still, we’re not writing the person off. We’re not saying things like, “You’ll never change.” We’re not disowning them. They may rightfully incur appropriate consequences, but we don’t give up on them.
Being angry for the right reasons requires our motivation to be for God. We aren’t allowed to angry about personal offenses.
And then and only then can we be angry with the right power which requires us to submit to and be controlled by the Holy Spirit which also means that the anger will dissipate when it’s no longer necessary — when the individual repents, when God brings judgment into their lives whether by you or someone else, when the person is out of our presence, or when it’s time for me to move on to another responsibility . . . like sleeping.
I know this concept has always been a hard one for me. I’m still growing in my understanding of Christ-honoring anger and fighting my own natural propensity to the anger of man.
Even if this podcast doesn’t help anyone else, it definitely helped me.
If it was helpful to you, but you’re still uncertain how to apply it specifically within the context of your family, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
Also, if this discussion was helpful for you, please share this episode with your friends on social media and by word of mouth.
And you can also leave a rating and review on Facebook and/or iTunes. We’d really appreciate that, and it will help other parents decide is this is the right podcast for them.
Lastly, if you believe we’re being true to God’s Word, and you’d like to join us in ministering to families all over the globe, you can support us financially and you might be able to become a member of TeamTLP.
Head on over to TruthLoveParent.com and you can find out all about the 5 easy ways you can support TLP and how to become a member of TeamTLP.
As always, I have episode notes full of verses for you on our blog, Taking Back the Family. You can click on the link in the description to be taken right there.
And join us next time as we discuss laying a biblical foundation for household chores.
In a way it’s comforting to know that anger isn’t always a sin, but — at the same time — we need to be very intentional in our anger lest we glorify Satan with our emotions.
To that end, I’ll see you next time.
Join The TLP Family and receive email updates when we publish new articles and episodes.
Subscribe to Our Podcast