After some introductory thoughts on anger in the first post, we have so far seen the first 3 of the 6 subjects pertaining to sinful anger namely, “What is Anger?,” “What is the Source of Sinful Anger?” and “Who are the Objects of Sinful Anger?” in the previous posts. In this post, we will be looking at the 4th subject pertaining to sinful anger.
However, it might be good to do a quick review of the first 3 subjects before proceeding.
In Part 2, we addressed the first subject, “What is Anger?” and answered it with this simple definition: Anger is an active response toward an act we perceive as morally wrong. So, in its very basic sense, anger in and of itself is not sin. It is a God-given emotion to all human beings. However, the bible differentiates between what call as righteous anger and what we call as sinful anger.
Righteous anger is that emotion displayed when God’s moral law [i.e. standard of what is right and wrong according to God] as described in the Bible is broken. It is the anger that is a result of God being put to shame. It is an anger that is controlled.
On the other hand, sinful anger is not an issue of God’s moral law being broken. It is an anger that arises when we feel: Our standards [or set of laws] are being broken; We are being put to shame; Things don’t happen according to our wishes; We don’t get our way. Basically, it’s frustration that rises when we feel our own needs or expectations are unmet.
In Part 3, we addressed the 2nd subject, “What is the source of sinful anger?” We saw that anger is not the cause―but a symptom―a symptom of a deeper problem―the problem of a sinful heart! As Jesus himself clearly said, “21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” [Mark 7:21-23].
The source of all evil actions―including the source of sinful anger can be traced back to the heart. The heart according to the Bible is that part of us which includes our thoughts, emotions and will. And when the heart is filled with wrong desires and those desires are unmet, the response is sinful anger.
In Part 4, we addressed the 3rd subject, “Who are the objects of sinful anger?” and answered it by saying that anger is typically expressed against God, self and others. Anger against God is a result of feeling God let us down either by failing to do what we expected him to do for us or by doing something to us that we did not expect him to do. Anger against self is a form of self-inflicted punishment that we direct against ourselves as a result of our own failures. In other words, we punish ourselves for our failures. Finally anger against others, which is the common one, results when we feel people have done or failed to do something which we perceive as morally wrong.
With that quick review, let us look at the fourth subject pertaining to sinful anger.
IV. What are the common expressions through which sinful anger is expressed?
People differ in the ways they display their sinful anger. It can be likened to three stages of a pressure cooker.
A. Silent Expression
This is like the first stage in the pressure cooker when the heat is silently building up inside. People in this category appear very calm on the outside, but are bottling up their anger on the inside. They seethe with rage on the inside―but put a smiling face on the outside―sometimes for years together!
Others who observe them often are deceived into thinking they are so controlled. Generally speaking, they are by nature more introvert and shy―not very expressive on the outside. However, calm and silent on the outside does not necessarily mean lack of anger on the inside. Heart on the inside gets hardened over time with a settled attitude of anger. And over time, this anger is expressed outwardly through words and actions.
2. Steady Release
This is like the second stage of the pressure cooker where the lid slowly and steadily leaks out small amounts of steam as the temperature rises. People in this category are those who constantly and steadily express their anger through sarcastic comments and hurtful actions. And all of this would be done in a way deliberately designed to hurt the other person and yet in a manner that the casual observer may not be able to clearly notice.
3. Sudden Explosion
This is like the third stage of the pressure cooker where you see the full steam blowing with a loud noise. People in this category are the explosive type. This explosive type of anger is usually marked by the voice getting louder, screaming, taking angry decisions and even getting physical in behavior. Unfortunately, even innocent kids are often the victims of such anger from the hands of an angry parent which at times may even involve physical abuse.
They are the type of individuals who say statements such as, “I don’t hide my feelings. I’m transparent. When I get mad, I will let it all out. I let everyone know where I stand.” By saying such words, their twisted minds even expect to be congratulated for such transparency!
Overall, the main point is this: Not all expressions of anger is demonstrated in the same manner. It varies in style, but it is still expressed. The same individual can express their anger silently over time, as well as steadily at all times and even in an explosive manner from time to time.
And no matter how anger is expressed, there are consequences—sometimes very destructive as we will see in the next post.