Be Angry But Do Not Sin


Angry: Indignant, mad, incensed or enraged; extremely unhappy with a circumstance.


(Eph 4:26-27 RSV)Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, {27} and give no opportunity to the devil.


(Mark 3:5 NIV)He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.


(John 2:14-16 NIV)In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. {15} So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. {16} To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"


Here is a command to be angry. Jesus was angry but He did not sin. So there are times we should be angry and act upon our anger. There are times when anger is not appropriate and such anger leads to sin.


Attributes of proper anger

*†† Controlled according to the needs of the circumstance.

*†† Motivated by perceiving grossly wrong or evil behavior.

*†† Not carried beyond the proper duration.

*†† Results in actions that are justified according to Godís Word.

*†† Aimed at the right person.


Attributes of improper anger

*†† The anger takes control of you.

*†† Your motivation is your vanity.

*†† You allow the anger to persist beyond the proper constraints.

*†† You act to please self and others without regard for what is pleasing to God.

*†† You choose an object or the wrong person as the focus of your anger.


Here is another verse about anger that offers good advice on anger and warns about inappropriate anger.

*†† (James 1:19-22 NIV)My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, {20} for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. {21} Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. {22} Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.



There are some verses that might seem to forbid anger altogether. However, a look at the context of these verses, when integrated with what we have already seen, shows that the anger referred to is inappropriate anger.

*†† (Eph 4:29-31 NIV)Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. {30} And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. {31} Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

*†† (Col 3:5-10 NIV)Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. {6} Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. {7} You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. {8} But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. {9} Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices {10} and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

*†† (1 Tim 2:8 NIV)I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.


So what should make us angry and what should not make us angry.


It seems to me two basic tenets involve knowledge and purpose. When someone makes an honest mistake then there was no knowledge or purpose involved. But if the same wrong deed is done purposefully with full knowledge of the consequences, then anger is called for.


Another way of looking at anger is this: Does it serve a useful purpose? Being angry because it rained on your picnic doesnít make much sense. Being angry because someone didnít live up to a good faith commitment does make sense. In the first case there really isnít much that can be done. In the second case there might be a good reason for anger in as much as people should be held accountable for their actions.


Anger is an emotion. And like all emotions, it can be used and it can be abused. If anger causes you to take proper action then it is well used. If it causes you to take inappropriate or no action then why bother?


God gave us emotions for a purpose. Itís the ďMotionĒ in emotion that is important. Consider a few examples.

*†† Love

*†† Happiness

*†† Fear

*†† Joy

*†† Grief


Each of these emotions can be seen as motivators, that is a source of action. Anger is simply another God given emotion. And like the others God has given it for a purpose. Consider again our sermon verse.

*†† (Eph 4:26-27 RSV)Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, {27} and give no opportunity to the devil.