Angry woman with fists

Today I want to talk about the emotion of anger. We all get angry sometimes. Anger is an emotion created by God, and actually, there are two types of anger: righteous anger and unrighteous anger. Jesus displayed righteous anger, turning over tables when He saw people had turned His Father’s house into “a den of thieves” (Matthew 12:13). However, the Bible says to be angry and sin not. When we get angry and then allow that emotion to make us act in ways contrary to God’s Word, we end up displaying unrighteous anger.

Righteous anger can quickly turn into unrighteous anger if we are not careful.  How do we know if we have slipped from righteous anger into unrighteous anger that totally displeases God? I’m glad you asked! Here are the top ten characteristics of unrighteous anger:

  1. Anger about something that is not a direct violation of God’s Word, or a preference that you have set up as a law.
  2. A superior attitude that forgets its own imperfections and weaknesses, and looks down on others because of their flaws.
  3. Withdrawal from the person without any thought given as to how you can help the person grow and become better.
  4. A condemning attitude with the thought that this person can never be any better and fails to see that he or she is a work in progress just as you are.
  5. A failure to pray for the person to be enlightened and have a change of heart about their sin and for the Holy Spirit to help them change their ways.
  6. A failure to examine yourself to see if you have committed the very sin you are angry about when you see it in others.
  7. Talking about the person to others with absolutely no intention of gently confronting them and helping them to grow.
  8. A failure to give thought to what is possibly fueling the behavior or to see the person through Jesus’ eyes.
  9. Holding on to anger about the person’s sin for long periods of time, far more than a day, and letting it taint your behavior towards the person.
  10. Lashing out at a person in anger with un-Christlike behaviors and attitudes.

Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” I think that Paul is encouraging us to make sure that when we see sinful behavior in others, we don’t allow ourselves to be tripped up by sin ourselves, especially the sin of unrighteous anger. You cannot be steeped in unrighteous anger and be a restorer. Therefore, anger should be like a flare, which is defined as “a sudden brief burst of bright flame or light.” Likewise, our anger should “burn out” quickly because only then can the Holy Spirit use us to make a difference.

Which one of the top ten characteristics above do you fight against the most? Please leave a comment below.


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Image courtesy Ben Schonewille via

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