Note: This is Part 6 in a series of blog posts addressing the subject of anger—in particular sinful anger. Click the links for previous posts related to this series [Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5].
After some introductory thoughts on anger in the first post, we have so far seen the first 4 of the 6 subjects pertaining to sinful anger namely, “What is Anger?,” “What is the Source of Sinful Anger?,” “Who are the Objects of Sinful Anger?” and “What are the Common Expressions through which Sinful Anger is Expressed?” in the previous posts. In this post, we will be looking at the 5th subject pertaining to sinful anger.
V. What are the destructive consequences of Sinful Anger?
First of all, we need to understand the basic truth that there is a price to pay for our angry outbursts. The Bible teaches this truth very clearly. Job 5:2a states, “Resentment kills a fool.” The NASB renders this verse in the following manner, “Anger slays the foolish man.” The Message, a paraphrase captures the sense quite well, “The hot temper of a fool eventually kills him.”
The point is clear: Giving to sinful anger results in destructive consequences. Solomon, the wisest man (next to the Lord Jesus Christ) could not have put it any more clearly: “A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty” [Proverbs 19:19].
So, what are the penalties the hot-tempered person ends up paying? Put it in another way, “What are the destructive consequences that result from sinful anger?” Listed below are 7.
Destructive Consequence # 1. Sinful anger has the potential to Distance People From Us.
Proverbs 22:24 says, “24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered.” People don’t get too close to an angry person, but keep their distance from them because they don’t want to get hurt. As one author put it, getting close to angry people is like, “snuggling up close to a time bomb―you never know when it’s going to explode and tear you to bits.” Angry people are often described as, “It does not take much to set him off or you have to walk on egg shells around her.” That’s why, one tends to keep their distance from an angry person.
How many marriages are destroyed because of sinful anger which at times even causes one spouse to leave the other spouse? Once again, Solomon’s words remind us of this truth, “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife” [Proverbs 21:9]. This same truth is repeated in Proverbs 25:24 as well. Be it a quarrelsome wife or husband, the truth of this proverb is a reality in many marriages!
One consequence of sinful anger then is this: the angry person lives in isolation. Remember, as believers, we are not called to live in isolation. We are to be a blessing to others. However, if we are controlled by sinful anger, we will not only experience misery as a result of isolation, but also result in failing to fulfill the God-given responsibility of loving our neighbors as ourselves.
In some cases, people actually use anger as a tool to distance people from them. In this way they actually control or manipulate them. How so? By keeping people at a distance, they need not have to work things out with others―especially those they have hurt! This way they can avoid all kinds of confrontations, accusations, etc. And since they know that people generally stay away from those who could blow up at any moment, they use their anger as a tool to keep people at a distance.
It is good to ask if you are lonely in life these two questions:
a. Is it because of my temper people keep their distance from me?
b. Am I using my anger to deliberately keep people from me?
Destructive Consequence # 2. Sinful anger has the potential to Negatively Influence Others.
Let’s look once again at Proverbs 22:24. But this time, let’s see verse 25 as well. “24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, 25 or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.” Notice the words, “or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.”
Sinful anger has the potential to negatively influence others―including our own children. Imagine, if you are a parent given to anger and your children see you day in and day out displaying an angry attitude, what a negative influence that would be! We are called to be a positive influence on others―especially our children! But notice how sinful anger can do the exact opposite!
Destructive Consequence # 3. Sinful anger has the potential to Lead To Greater Sins—Including Murder!
Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.” Remember Cain and how his anger toward Abel eventually led him to murder him [Gen 4:6-8]. The very first murder in the Bible and that too a brother killing a brother came about as a result of uncontrolled anger. And this despite God warning Cain that the sin of anger was controlling him and that he needed to resist that urge through these words, “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” [Gen 4:7]!
While we may not resort to murder, our sinful anger can cause much damage―than we originally intended. One example is in the area of sinful speech that is a result of uncontrolled anger. Proverbs 12:18 says, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Notice the angry heart keeps pounding and wounding others with words―words that can hurt long after they have been spoken. Since we may not be able to kill someone physically, we repeatedly resort to kill them with words because we can’t control our tempers.
Angry people have the potential to do rash things. In police language, at times, a violent act is termed as a “crime of passion” meaning it was not premeditated action. Such crimes are usually committed as a result of sudden rage controlling a person. Often a simple argument leads to so many other sins―including physical acts of violence not to mention even murder! All because we can’t control our anger! That’s why we should strive to nip this sin of anger at the bud and not wait for it to fester!
Destructive Consequence # 4. Sinful anger has the potential to Cause Us To Hurt Even The Innocent.
At times, even as parents, our uncontrolled anger causes us to harm our little children―verbally as well as physically. Here is a short and painful story that illustrates this truth:
While a man was polishing his new car, his 4 year old son picked a stone and scratched lines on the side of the car. In anger, the man took the child’s hand and hit it many times, not realizing he was using a wrench.
At the hospital, the child lost all his fingers due to multiple fractures. When the child saw his father with painful eyes he asked, ‘Dad when will my fingers grow back?’ The man was very hurt and speechless. He went back to the car and kicked it a lot of times.
Devastated by his own actions and as he sat in front of that car he looked at the scratches his child had written, ‘LOVE YOU DAD.’ The next day that man committed suicide.
Indeed a heart-wrenching story! Shows the wretched consequences of sinful anger that knows no bounds!
Please do not draw the wrong conclusion from this story that we are never to discipline our children―the Bible calls it sin if we as parents fail to exercise right discipline [where needed]. However, it is sin if the disciplining is a result of uncontrolled anger―and this story is an example of uncontrolled anger. The Bible does not give even a hint in terms of inflicting any kind of abuse on others! Abuse IS sin! Our disciplining of children should never lead to any kind of injury.
The point is that sinful anger can lead one to hurt even the innocent. Our rage can blind us to reality and cause us to lose the sense of reasoning and thus lead us to hurt innocent people.
For example, let us say we are angry with someone and if others mention something nice about the person we are angry toward, we turn against such people just because they are not taking our side! In other words, our anger lashes out at others who at times may even be our friends because they are not supporting our “righteous” anger!
So, we need to be warned: sinful anger can lead us to hurt innocent ones.
Destructive Consequence # 5. Sinful anger has the potential to Bring God’s Judgment.
Here is another devastating consequence of sinful anger—this time from the lips of the Lord Jesus himself as found in what is often called as the Sermon on the Mount.
“21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” [Matthew 5:21-22].
Anger leads to sinful speech, as indicated by the word “raca” which is a term of contempt and “fool” which denotes a person who lacks any sense. Such actions eventually lead to judgment from God as indicated by the phrases, “will be subject to judgment” repeated twice in verses 21-22 and the phrase, “will be in danger of the fire of hell” in verse 22!
While those who are truly God’s children will never face the fires of hell, God may still severely discipline his children if they exhibit sinful anger. And those who are characterized by a lifestyle of sinful anger should also examine themselves to see if they are truly God’s children since they continue to live as slaves to sin—contrary to what Romans 6:17-18 clearly teaches!
Angry people cannot escape God’s judgment. Why? Because an angry spirit is really a proud and rebellious spirit. How can God approve of a proud and rebellious spirit? God delights only in those who have humble hearts [James 4:6].
Another reason God is not pleased with angry people is that they rob God of glory. An angry person often tries to take God’s place as the final judge which is precisely what Simeon and Levi did when they attacked the Shechemites [Genesis 34:24-29].
While it is true that God commanded the Israelites to wipe out cities when they entered the Promised Land, those were to be done under God’s instructions. In other words, it was a holy war where God used them as his instruments to execute HIS vengeance on people who greatly sinned against him.
That is different from people taking action on their own to right a wrong. In that sense, they take what belongs to God―namely his vengeance on sinful acts. Romans 12:19 clearly says, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” We cannot rob God of his glory and expect to be blessed!
So, we need to be warned: sinful anger has the great potential of bringing God’s judgment upon ourselves.
Destructive Consequence # 6. Sinful anger has the potential to Affect Health.
Proverbs 14:29-30 says, “29 Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly. 30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” According to one writer, “The Hebrew poetic structure suggests that the patience-versus-quick-tempered antithesis parallels the “life to the body” versus “rots the bones” antithesis.” In other words, both anger and envy have the potential to damage the physical body, whereas the qualities of patience and peace bring health.
How true are the words: Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured! So, we need to remember that sinful anger has the potential to damage one’s own health!
Destructive Consequence # 7. Sinful anger has the potential to Affect Prayers.
The apostle Paul wrote these words in 1 Timothy 2:8, “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” If we pray with anger in our hearts, we sin and thereby experience the reality of Psalm 66:18 which says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
God will not hear people who stubbornly refuse to let go of any sin—which includes the sin of anger as well! While 1 Timothy 2:8 primarily addresses men, the principle of anger in the heart does affect one’s prayers from being answered—be it the person praying is a man or woman!
Peter also warns husbands with these words, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” [1 Peter 3:7]. Being inconsiderate towards their wives—which includes having an angry spirit—will hinder a husband’s prayers from being answered.
So, we need to remember the devastating consequences sinful anger can have on our prayer life.
Many more consequences can be added to the above list of 7. But these alone ought to shake us up strongly as we see how deadly are the potential consequences of sinful anger.
In our next post, we will conclude this series by looking at the 6th and final subject of sinful anger: How can we be delivered from sinful anger?