Summary: This is the 9th message in the series, 'Building Relationships that Last.'

Anger is an emotion that most of us as human beings deal with. However, if we do not manage this emotion the right way, it will certainly hamper our relationships with people.

Why do we get angry?

There are several reasons why we could get angry. Let me mention a few. We may get angry if someone offends us, repays the good we do to them with evil, falsely accuses us, demeans us or disrespects us. Sometimes, we may get angry when things are done without integrity, when there is injustice, or we are asked to do things that are contrary to our beliefs and convictions. However, we could also get angry because of wounded egos, selfishness, un-forgiveness, bitterness, envy, hatred towards others, and wanting to have our own way. Therefore, we can be angry for the right reasons and for wrong reasons as well.

Here are some examples from the Bible

In Genesis 4:5-6 we read about Cain, who was so angry with his brother Abel, because God accepted Abel’s offering, and had no regard for Cain, and his offering. Cain was actually angry with God, but he showed that anger on his brother, and put him to death. The reason for anger in this case was envy, and when left unrestrained, led to hatred and ended in murder.

We read in Numbers 20 how Moses got so angry with the people of Israel for their murmurings, that he struck the rock twice, instead of speaking to it. This angry act of Moses cost him dearly, for God forbid him to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land. The anger of Moses was one of complete frustration, and he lost control of his emotions at a very critical time.

There is another incident of the prophet Balaam in Numbers 22, when he got really ticked off with his donkey, because it refused to proceed in his path of rebellion. The donkey saw the angel of the Lord hindering the path, which the prophet did not see. As Balaam beat the donkey in anger, the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey to speak with the voice of a man, and refrained the prophet’s anger. Balaam’s anger was sparked off by the fact that the vehicle he was travelling on was not cooperating with him, in the path of rebellion that we was undertaking.

When Naboth refused to sell his vineyard to King Ahab in 1 Kings 21, we read how Ahab sulked while his wife Jezebel, was wicked and murdered Naboth, so that her husband could acquire the property that he coveted after. Ahab’s anger was like that of a child, who would throw tantrums when they don’t have their own way, and Jezebel’s anger was wicked, in that she misused her authority to take what did not rightfully belong to them.

The book of Esther talks about Haman, who was angered with Esther’s uncle Mordecai, because he refused to bow down to him. This upset proud Haman so much that he not only plotted to have Mordecai hanged, but also got an order passed for the annihilation of all Jews who were in that kingdom, just because Mordecai was a Jew. Haman’s anger was from an ego that was hurt, and he was willing to go to any extent to take revenge on the one who did not submit to him.

Absalom was the favored son of King David, and Absalom had a sister named Tamar. 2 Samuel 13 gives the details of this incident. However, when Amnon the half-brother of Absalom lusted after Tamar, and sexually assaulted her, Absalom was so enraged that he decided to take revenge. Absalom waited for an opportune time, and got Amnon killed. Here was anger that was kept hidden in the heart of Absalom, which led him to murder Amnon to get even for the wrong that he had done to his sister Tamar.

The things that angered Jesus

Interestingly, Jesus too did get angry, but notice how His anger was always righteous, and only pertained to matters regarding the Kingdom of God. In John 2:13-22, Jesus was angered that the temple, which was meant to be a place of prayer, was converted into a den of robbers, who did business in the name of God. The other time Jesus got angry was in Mark 3:5, when the religious leaders were so obsessed with keeping the Sabbath, that they did not care about the man who was suffering with an infirmity for many long years. In this case, Jesus was deeply distressed and angry at the stubbornness of their hearts. In yet another incident Jesus was truly indignant. This is recorded in Mark 10:13-16, when the disciples of Jesus hindered little children from approaching Him.

However, when Jesus was ill-treated, tortured, falsely accused, beaten and nailed to the cruel cross on our behalf, He bore it all most patiently, and did not lose his cool, but endured it all for our sakes.

Anger is equal to murder

We read in Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. (NKJV)

When Jesus taught His disciples, He gave them the right perspective of the Old Testament laws. It was here that Jesus explained, that to be angry with someone without a reason was equal to committing murder. Anger is an intense emotion, and when not controlled has actually led to murder.

Counsel from God on how to deal with anger

Below are some helpful admonitions that we can apply to our lives.

• Proverbs 14:29 says, “People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.” (NLT)

• James 1:20 we read, “For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (ESV)

• Paul says it so aptly in Ephesians 4:26-27, “And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” (NLT)

• Proverbs 14:17 says, “A man of quick temper acts foolishly,”(ESV)

The fruit of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer produces patience and self-control, which means that there should be no room for uncontrolled anger. Have you noticed how often our anger is misplaced? We may be upset with someone, and tend to throw this anger on someone else. Anger, if not kept under control, will lead people to say and do things rashly, much of which they will regret later.

Also, we must remember that when we get angry, we are actually giving Satan a foothold in our lives. As human beings, we may, in our weakness get angry with others, but it is essential that we apologise if we are in the wrong, forgive, set things right, and be reconciled before the day is over. I like what Charles Swindoll says about anger, “Allowing anger to seethe on the back burner, will lead to a very large lid blowing off a very hot pot.” Be sure that if anger is left unchecked, and we continue with a heart of un-forgiveness and hatred, it will certainly cause division and break-down good relationships.

The next time you are about to lose your temper, just stop, pray, ask God to help deal with those surging emotions, discuss issues when you are calmer, extend forgiveness, and forget the offences. Let us always remember that relationships are most precious, and we should never allow anger to destroy them.