What Does the Bible Say About Anger?
The Bible’s answer
The Bible teaches that uncontrolled anger is harmful, both to the person who harbors it and to those around him. (Proverbs 29:22) Although anger may be justified at times, the Bible says that those who continue to have “fits of anger” will not gain salvation. (Galatians 5:19-21) The Bible contains principles that can help a person deal with anger.
Is anger always wrong?
No. Anger may be justified in some cases. For example, the faithful man Nehemiah “became very angry” when he learned that some of his fellow worshippers were being oppressed.—Nehemiah 5:6.
At times, God feels anger. For example, when his ancient people broke their agreement to worship only him and started to serve false gods, “Jehovah’s anger blazed against” them. (Judges 2:13, 14) Even so, anger is not a dominant aspect of Jehovah God’s personality. His anger is always justified and controlled.—Exodus 34:6; Isaiah 48:9.
When is anger wrong?
Anger is wrong when it is uncontrolled or unjustified, which is often the case with the anger displayed by imperfect humans. For example:
Cain “grew hot with anger” when God rejected his sacrifice. Cain allowed his anger to fester to the point that he murdered his brother.—Genesis 4:3-8.
The prophet Jonah “became hot with anger” when God showed mercy to the Ninevites. God corrected Jonah, pointing out that it was not “right for [him] to be so angry” and that he should have felt compassion for those repentant sinners.—Jonah 3:10–4:1, 4, 11. a
These examples illustrate that for imperfect humans, “man’s anger does not bring about God’s righteousness.”—James 1:20.
How can you deal with anger?
Recognize the danger of uncontrolled anger. Some may think that unleashing their anger is a sign of strength. In reality, someone who cannot control his anger has a serious weakness. “As a city broken through, without a wall, is the man who cannot control his temper.” (Proverbs 25:28; 29:11) On the other hand, when we cultivate the ability to control our anger, we demonstrate true strength and discernment. (Proverbs 14:29) The Bible says: “The one slow to anger is better than a mighty man.”—Proverbs 16:32.
Deal with anger before it causes you to do something you will regret. “Let go of anger and abandon rage,” says Psalm 37:8, adding: “Do not become upset and turn to doing evil.” Notice that when we feel angry, we have a choice—we can choose to let it go before we end up “doing evil.” As Ephesians 4:26 says, “be wrathful, but do not sin.”
If possible, take your leave when anger starts to build. “Beginning a fight is like opening a floodgate,” says the Bible. “Before the quarrel breaks out, take your leave.” (Proverbs 17:14) Although it is wise to settle differences with others quickly, both you and the other person may first need to cool down before you can discuss matters calmly.
Get the facts. “The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger,” says Proverbs 19:11. We are wise to gather all the facts before forming a conclusion. When we carefully listen to all sides of a matter, we are less likely to feel unjustified anger.—James 1:19.
Pray for peace of mind. Prayer can help you experience “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) Prayer is one of the main ways we receive God’s holy spirit, which can produce in us such qualities as peace, patience, and self-control.—Luke 11:13; Galatians 5:22, 23.
Choose your associates carefully. We tend to become like the people we associate with. (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33) For good reason, the Bible warns: “Do not keep company with a hot-tempered man or get involved with one disposed to rage.” Why? “So that you never learn his ways and ensnare yourself.”—Proverbs 22:24, 25.
a Apparently, Jonah accepted the correction and let go of his anger, for God used him to write the portion of the Bible bearing his name.