What About Anger—is it a Sin?Question: Is anger a sin?
Answer: It might surprise you to know that many people think anger is a sin—a really bad sin. But then it might surprise you to know that many people think anger is not a sin.
One of the most common verses people turn to for an answer to your question is Ephesians 4:26. The King James Version says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”
Now, the King James Version can sometimes be confusing, since most of us don’t use that style of language anymore. But the verse seems to be telling us to be angry and also not to sin. Is that possible?
Here’s the same verse from the New Living Translation: “And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Verse 27 adds, “For anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.”*
That seems fairly clear to me. Anger isn’t sin. Often people do destructive things because of their anger, which makes anger seem like the problem. Yet anger is simply an emotion that indicates how we feel about something.
Let me illustrate my point. If one of your friends started spreading bad rumors about you and you heard about it, there’s a good chance you’d feel angry. Is that a sin?
No. Your anger would probably stem from your hurt and surprise that your friend would do something like that. Some people might simply cry about it, while others would probably move into anger mode.
How you respond to your friend’s actions is where sin comes into play. For instance, if you decide to spread rumors about your friend because you’re angry that he or she did that to you, it’s certainly not a godly response.
Paul quotes Proverbs 25:21, 22 when he writes about being good and kind—even to your enemies. He says it’s like heaping coals of fire onto their heads. Then he gives his own comment: “Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good” (Romans 12:21, NLT).
So if you’re feeling angry, ask yourself where this feeling stems from. Then, instead of responding with something to hurt others (because they hurt you), give them a little taste of heaven, not hell!
Oh, and by the way, get a concordance and look up the word “anger.” You’ll find that Jesus felt anger (Mark 3:5). The Psalms often talk about God’s anger (Psalm 78:58), and one Psalm even requests that God get angry (Psalm 69:24). Isaiah and Jeremiah write about it frequently, too.
Is anger a sin? No. It’s an indicator that something really matters to you. How you respond to what caused your anger is your opportunity to showcase either good or evil.
*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.