Why Does the Bible Say We Should Be Angry But Not Sin?

The Bible, as the complete handbook of human instruction (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17), carefully teaches us how to handle our emotions. In it we are given specific instructions on how to handle even the most difficult of human emotions.

Anger, perhaps one of the most difficult but important to control, is included in the list. For it we are told,

"Be angry but do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Do not give place to the devil." (Ephesians 4:26-27 MEV)

Why does the Bible tell us to handle it that way?

Pressure cooker

Anger is a God-designed emotion. God, in His righteousness and holiness, gets angry at sin. He designed us all to have the same capacity to be angry at the wrong things. Thus, anger is not a sin in itself; it is a good emotion once directed towards the right things.

The Bible tells us to "be angry." Of course that doesn't mean we should "be" angry, but that we should not suppress or deny our anger. If we are angry at something we find wrong, we must admit it, own up to it, and manage it. We can be angry for the right reasons.

If we suppress our anger long enough, it becomes dangerous. We can't keep denying that we are upset or angry at things; the longer we do, the more prone we are to bitterness. The more we deny our anger a healthy release, the more it works like a pressure cooker, building up pressure until we become very explosive.

Have you ever seen a nice man suddenly burst in anger? Or perhaps someone who doesn't openly admit his anger at things, but suddenly becomes bitter, possibly violent or antagonistic, even toxic? That's what happens when anger is pent up.

Don't let the sun go down on your anger

Another thing we have to learn about anger management is that while we shouldn't suppress it, we shouldn't allow it to linger longer in our hearts and minds. We shouldn't "stay angry." Instead, we should forgive. And we should forgive and release the offense before sleeping. Why?

According to authors Judah Pollack and Olivia Fox Cabane, what we think about while we are awake gets reinforced in our memory as we sleep. The more we think about something before sleeping, the more the brain keeps it in our minds as we sleep. Figuratively speaking, if we sleep with anger as a pillow, we will wake up with anger as a bed.

Do not sin

Now this leads me to the last part of what I want to say. Uncontrolled anger will lead us to sin, either in our hearts and minds, or with our words and actions. True enough, what fills the heart also spews out from our lips (see Luke 6:45).

If we don't know how to manage our anger in a God-glorifying way, we will end up doing something displeasing to God and possibly offensive and even dangerous to others. We must not be given over to anger, and we are not to suppress our anger and turn it into an emotion bomb either. We must be angry at the wrong things, but gracious and quick to forgive.

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