'Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back'
- Proverbs chapter 29, verse 11
'People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness'
- Proverbs chapter 14, verse 29
Righteous Anger vs Unrighteous Anger
On my way home from work one day, I was listening to a podcast entitled What triggers your angry reaction from the God-Centered Mom Podcast. It was very interesting when they started talking about righteous anger and unholy or unrighteous anger.
The podcast host gave the example of righteous anger, as us parents who have the right and responsibility to be angry when our children sin but we have no right to display anger when they have decided to inconvenience us by messing up their room or wanting our attention when we are working on our laptop.
In the Bible, one example of righteous anger is recorded in Matthew chapter 21, verses 12–13 where Jesus entered the temple courts and saw it had been turned into a market place of buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of the sellers. He then said to them 'My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers'.
Another example of righteous anger is recorded in Exodus chapter 32, verse 19. Moses, upon descending from the Mount Sinai after speaking with God to inscribe the Ten Commandments on stone tablets, saw God's people below worshipping a calf. He burned with anger and threw the stone tablets to the ground, smashing them to pieces.
There is a clear distinction between righteous anger, which is shown in Matthew chapter 21 and Exodus 32, and anger resulting in folly—as described by the verses above from Proverbs. It is therefore important to know the distinction, as God would want us to have righteous anger.
Righteous anger fights for justice, for loyalty, against wicked people who make use of the weak and the poor. Unrighteous anger results in foolishness and requires discipline from God.
How Can We Manage Our Unrighteous Anger?
Recently, I was speaking to someone professionally about my own anger issues and how it creeps up on me. I have been working with her for some time now and she mentioned something to me, which spoke to me personally.
She asked me to pray. It sounds simple, but God does not want us to carry our own burdens. He wants us to leave them at the foot of the cross. God does not expect me to carry my entire burden on my own. He wants me to trust in His love, His grace and His power that He can help me to let go and to rely on Him.
My anger does not result in folly alone; it removes room in my heart to receive Jesus. If my heart is full of resentment, anger and worry, I do not have room to receive the Holy Spirit in my life, and without the Holy Spirit leading me into what God has intended for me to be in His image, I cannot fully heal. Anger stems from something, and for me, it stemmed from many unresolved issues I had as a child and growing up.
Before I could learn to deal with my anger, I first had to learn to let go and allow God to heal me. With fervent prayer and seeking in the Lord, I am learning to let go and to leave my burdens at the foot of the cross. Only then, can I manage my unrighteous anger.
Jesus says 'Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest' (Matthew chapter 11, verse 28). Pray, as God says 'Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you, he will never let the righteous be shaken' (Psalms chapter 55, verse 22).
Know That God Is With You Through This
My favourite Christian song says: 'When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look, and see Him there, who made an end to all my sin' (Before the Throne of God Above). God is always with us every step of the way. He doesn't leave us to deal with our issues alone. Trust in Him and he will lead you to the path of righteousness
Clarissa Yates is from Singapore but moved to live in Perth, Western Australia in 2008. Clarissa completed a BSc. in Molecular Biology at the University of Western Australia and works part-time as a Research Assistant. She also owns a cake business, Lollicakes. She is currently studying to be an Early Childhood Educator.
Clarissa Yates' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/clarissa-yates.html