Doctrine of Anger
Prov 15:18; Luke 6:10-11, 8/19
Prov 15:18, “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute.”
Having noted the emotions of joy and sadness, rapport love and hatred in vs. 13, 15, and 17, we continue our topical study of “Emotions” in Chapter 15 with a new type of emotion, “anger” in vs. 18.
Here we have a contrast between a “hot-tempered” man and one who is “slow to anger.” In both cases there are consequences as to how we handle the emotion of anger within our soul. We begin with the negative
“Hot-tempered man” is the noun ISH for “man,” and the Noun CHEMAH, חֵמָה meaning, “heat, wrath or poison.” Cf. Prov 6:34; 15:1. In regard to heat, it is used for the burning sensation when drinking wine or any alcohol. As for poison we see its deadly result. Both have nuance regarding the main use of the word for wrath or anger, and the common denominator of these meanings has to do with heat felt internally. Therefore, the word is translated here as “hot-tempered.” As you know, when you or someone else gets angry, the blood pressure goes up and adrenalin begins to flow, causing the body to feel heated up.
When a cartoon character gets angry, steam comes out the ears, red creeps over the body from head to toe and there may even be an explosion or two. It is not as entertaining to watch in real life, but the state of anger causes physical effects in us as well. The response varies from person to person, but some symptoms include teeth grinding, fists clenching, flushing, paling, prickly sensations, numbness, sweating, muscle tensions, and temperature changes.
The feeling of anger may differ from person to person; “women, for example, are more likely to describe anger slowly building through the body rate, while men describe it as a fire or a flood raging within them.” (Thomas, Sandra P. “Anger: The Mismanaged Emotion.” Dermatology Nursing. August 2003.) It also varies by what is acceptable in the culture as well. Nevertheless, it is much like the fight-or-flight response; your body is gearing up for a fight to survive a wrong that has been perpetrated against you. As a result, chemicals like adrenaline and noradrenaline surge through the body.
In the brain, the amygdala, the part of the brain that deals with emotion, is going crazy. It wants to do something, and “the time between a trigger event and a response from the amygdala can be a quarter of a second.” (Ellison, Katherine, “Mastering Your Own Mind,” Psychology Today, September/October 2006.)
But at the same time, blood flow is increasing to the frontal lobe, specifically the part of the brain that is over the left eye. This area controls reasoning and is likely what is keeping you from hurling a vase across the room. These areas generally balance each other out quickly. According to some research, “the neurological response to anger lasts less than two seconds,” (McCarthy, Jenna, “Anger Management,” Real Simple, June 2008.). This is why we are told to count to 10 when we get angry before making any response.
The frontal lobe is important in controlling our rage as noted in the example of Phineas Gage. In 1848, Gage, a nice, dependable railroad worker suffered an accident in which a rod went through his skull above the left eye. From then on, Gage was angry, irritable, and unstable, and not just because he had had a rod driven through his skull, but rather, the rod had destroyed the part of his brain that would inhibit an angry response.
Next in Prov 15:18a, we have, “stirs up strife,” which is the intensive active Piel Imperfect of the Verb GARAH, גָּרָה that means, “to meddle, stir up, provoke, or excite.” With this we have the Noun MADON, מָדוֹן that means, “strife or contention.” Stirring up strife means to cause trouble, conflict, discord, fighting, dissension, friction, and rivalry between two people or two groups. It means having a detrimental effect on others, the ones your anger is projected towards. But we also note that anger can cause inner problems for the one who is angry, especially if you are constantly being activated by triggers that make you angry, because this state of reaction can start to cause damage.
Chronically angry people may not have the mechanism to turn off these effects. They may not produce acetylcholine, a hormone which tempers the more severe effects of adrenaline. Their nervous system is constantly working and can eventually become overexerted, leading to “a weakened heart and stiffer arteries,” Angier, Natalie, “If Anger Ruins Your Day, It Can Shrink Your Life,” New York Times, Dec. 13, 1990). There is potential for liver and kidney damage, as well as high cholesterol, and it may cause depression or anxiety.
Anger’s physical side effects explain why you frequently see studies about the damage that this emotion can do to our bodies. In one study of almost 13,000 subjects, individuals with the highest levels of anger had twice the risk of coronary artery disease and three times the risk of heart attack, as compared to the subjects with the lowest levels of anger, (Kam, Katherine, “Rein in the Rage: Anger and Heart Disease,” WebMD). Some scientists think that chronic anger may be more dangerous than smoking and obesity as a factor that will contribute to early death.
For some of these effects, the key is tempering the triggers that set you off, so that you are not mad at every little thing. But for some of these diseases, the key is how you are expressing your anger.
1. Anger is a mental attitude sin from the Old Sin Nature, Gal 5:20, which motivates Royal Family Honor Code violations like gossip, judging, or maligning others, Col 3:8.
2. As a mental attitude sin, anger expresses antagonism, hatred, exasperation, resentment, irrationality. It can be mental or emotional or both. It is unjustifiable because it becomes a reaction of antagonism, irritation, exasperation, or irrationality, which makes it a sin.
3. Anger violates the following principles of the Royal Family Honor Code.
a. Two wrongs do make a right. Anger plus another sin is not right.
b. You cannot build your happiness on someone else’s unhappiness. This is exactly what retaliation tries to do. You will never become happy by getting revenge.
c. To punish someone else by revenge such as verbal sins or violence is synonymous with obstruction of Divine punishment and blasphemy toward Divine justice.
d. Anger becomes involved with arrogance and opens the gate to all of the manifestations of arrogance and sin.
e. Anger is motivation for murder.
4. Anger stems from arrogance within your soul that motivates emotional sins like jealousy, bitterness, vindictiveness, hatred, implacability, revenge, self-pity. Criminal activity is the function of the arrogant and angry person. Anger always adds wrong to wrong, sin to sin.
5, Anger is never an isolated sin, Prov 29:22, “An angry (APH – nostrils or face) man stirs up strife, and a hot tempered (CHEMAH) man abounds in transgression.”
6, Anger is associated with grieving the Holy Spirit, Eph 4:30-31, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and slander be removed from you, together with all wickedness.”
7. Anger hinders effective prayer, 1 Tim 2:8, “Therefore, I desire that men in every place pray, lifting up holy hands without anger and without dissension.”
8. Anger destroys virtue in the subject. Therefore, anger destroys the function of Impersonal Love and marriages, Eph 5:26.
9. Anger destroys a nation, Amos 1:11, “So decrees the Lord, ‘for three sins of Edom, even for four, I will not revoke its punishment. Because he pursued his brother with a sword, stifling all compassion, because his anger raged continually and he maintained his anger forever’.”
10. Anger results in self‑induced misery, Prov 22:8. You fail to interpret history or your circumstances correctly, become frustrated and then angry, which results in self‑induced misery. The reaction of anger has a way of fragmenting your life.
11. Most people who spend their time in anger have a temporary loss of self-esteem or it is a manifestation that no self-esteem existed in the first place.
12. Anger is related to stupidity, Eccl 7:9, “Do not be eager in your heart (right lobe) to be angry; for anger resides in the bosom of fools.”
Satan had anger and it turned a genius into a fool. Anger turns any person into a stupid fool. A person is never smart when angry, which is why many stupid and embarrassing things are said in anger. If you have to deal with some problem and must have your senses about you, do not lose your cool, do not lose your temper!
13. Anger, like most sins, is the source of chain sinning, Heb 12:15. This is hidden, hypocritical anger. It motivates jealousy and cruelty, Prov 27:4. A person can not be angry without being cruel and unfair.
14. Anger causes misery to those in your periphery, Amos 1:11; Prov 21:19; 22:24; 25:24; 29:22.
15. The Bible distinguishes between sinful anger as mental and emotional anger. If your right lobe is dominating, you can react in mental anger (ORGE). If your reaction is from emotional revolt, then it is emotional anger (THUMOS). Both are unjustifiable reactions.
a, The Greek word ORGE meaning, “impulse, wrath, or anger,” refers to mental anger, and THUMOS, meaning, “passion or anger,” to emotional anger. In Eph 4:31 both types are related to bitterness.
Eph 4:31, “Let all bitterness and wrath (THUMOS) and anger (ORGE) and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
b. In Prov 15:18, the LXX utilizes the Greek Adjective THUMODES from the root THUMOS for the Hebrew Noun CHEMAH in the first half of the verse, and in the second half of the verse the Greek compound word MAKROTHUMOS that means, “longsuffering or patient,” from MAKROS meaning, “long” and THUMOS meaning, “passion or anger,” for AREK APH of the Hebrew.
16. Believer’s with arrogant subjectivity look down at others and hide their anger until one day when they explode at friends or loved ones. This is a flawed character. This is a hidden anger instead of an outburst of anger.
17. As an irrational sin of emotion, mental attitude anger expresses antagonism, hatred, resentment. It often expresses itself in slander and even violence and murder.
18. Righteous Indignation on the other hand is justifiable anger because it is not the emotion of anger. It is a clear understanding of a bad situation. Righteous indignation is response to unfair treatment by concentration on your relationship with God. Reaction leads to anger and sin.
a. In Mark 10:14, Jesus became righteously opposed to the disciples when they forbad the children to be brought to Him, it is not anger. It is an understanding of a wrong.
b. In Mat 23:13-36, Jesus railed against the Scribes and Pharisees. He was not angry when He chewed them out, but expressed righteous indignation.
c. Jesus was not angry when he said to Peter in Mat 16:23, “Get behind Me Satan, you are a stumbling block to Me. You are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”
d. In Mark 3:5, Jesus’ reaction to the Pharisees shows His anger as righteous indignation, “After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart…” Therefore, before healing the man with the withered hand, Jesus’ angry eyes scanned the crowd of unbelieving Pharisees gathered in the synagogue who were “closely watching” Him to see if He would break the Law. He was staring down the watchers. This “anger,” (ORGE, anger or wrath), expressed by Jesus is what is called “righteous anger” or “just indignation,” Eph 4:26.
Eph 4:26, “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Cf. Psa 4:4.
This is a principle of Impersonal Love that maintains the virtue of the subject, yet sinful anger destroys the function of impersonal love. Eph 4:26 tells us to “never let the sun set on your anger,” and “to be angry and yet do not sin,” which is righteous indignation.
Psa 4:4, teaches David’s righteous indignation at the revolt of his son Absalom. In this case, David’s temptation to be angry with Absalom was checked. If David had continued in his reaction, it would have become sin. But David was able to stop his temptation to sin by being occupied with Christ. As a result, he asked the army to spare Absalom, 2 Sam 18:5.
It is possible to respond to unfairness apart from sin. You can be angry because of maltreatment or gossip from others, and yet still put the matter in the Lord’s hands. When maltreated, never let reaction to maltreatment become sin. If you retaliate, then your reaction becomes sinful anger. Then you will violate the Royal Family Honor Code. The Bible emphasizes righteousness maintained in the face of unfair treatment. Therefore, never let reaction become sin.
Therefore, it is ok to be upset with people or situations that are sinful or unrighteous, or in response to unfair treatment and show your displeasure with them or the situation. Yet, at the same time, as Jesus did in Mark 3:5f, you need to take the appropriate action to demonstrate what true righteousness, grace, love, and mercy are. You can be angry because of maltreatment or gossip from others, and yet still put the matter in the Lord’s hands and not sin.
e. Anger is used as an anthropopathism in two phrases which are found many times in the Bible:
1) “The anger of the Lord,” Num 25:4; 32:14; Deut 29:20; Judges 3:8; 10:7; 2:14, 20; 2 Kings 24:20; Lam 4:16; Jer 4:8; 25:37; 30:24; 51:45; 52:3; Zeph 2:2-3; Ps 2:5.
2) “The wrath of God.” 2 Chron 28:11; Ezra 10:14; Ps 78:31; John 3:36; Rom 1:18; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6; Rev 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1; 19:15.
Famous Anger Quotes.
- “Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame.” – Benjamin Franklin
- “He who harbors hatred and bitterness injures himself far more than the one towards whom he manifests these evil propensities.” – David O. McKay
- “Anger itself does more harm than the condition which aroused anger.” – David O. McKay
- “Whenever you get red in the face, whenever you raise your voice, whenever you get ‘hot under the collar,’ or angry, rebellious, or negative in spirit, then know that the spirit of God is leaving you and the spirit of Satan is beginning to take over.” – Theodore M. Burton
- “For every sixty seconds of anger, you lose one minute of happiness.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “If a man does not control his temper, it is a sad admission that he is not in control of his thoughts. He then becomes a victim of his own passions and emotions, which lead him to actions that are totally unfit for civilized behavior, let alone behavior for a priesthood holder.” -President Ezra Taft Benson
- “He who can suppress a moments anger may prevent a day of sorrow.” – Tryon Edwards
- “Anger is just a letter short of DANGER.” – anonymous
- “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” – Thomas Jefferson
- “Most people usually do not assume responsibility for their anger. Instead, what we typically hear is, “You made me angry.” “They made me upset,” etc. I trust it is evident that these types of statements are not true. No one else can “make” you angry. We have to make ourselves angry. What others say and do is, yes, a part of the equation, but without our contribution to the equation, anger cannot arise nor exist. This can be a very threatening conception of anger, and yet it is also very freeing, for as long as we do determine our own emotional responses, we are free to change and to control them. If other people or events were, in fact, responsible for our emotional responses, then we would not have the freedom nor ability to change them, unless we could control other people and events, which is much more challenging and usually impossible. Thus, principle 1 in the case against anger is, we are ultimately responsible for our own anger.” – Kelly, Burton C.
- Someone has said, “The size of a man may be measured by the size of the things that make him angry.” How true that is! To become upset and infuriated over trivial matters gives evidence of childishness and immaturity in a person. – Elder ElRay L. Christiansen
- “He who angers you, conquers you.” – Elizabeth Kenny
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence….
Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.
The day passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”
A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.