The answer to that question is yes, there are degrees of anger. We will take a look at those degrees in a moment but first let’s consider a couple of characteristics of anger. First, anger is a basic emotion built into us by God Himself. Just as God gets angry so we, who are made in the image of God, get angry. The Bible tells us that God was repeatedly angry with rebellious Israel and with His children when they sinned. Consider Psalm 30:5 where King David writes, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime. . .” or Psalm 38:1, “O Lord rebuke me not in Thy wrath; and chasten me not in Thy burning anger.” God is often called a God of wrath and fury (Deuteronomy 29:28, Psalm 6:1).
Based on the fact that God gets angry and God never sins, anger is not, in and of itself, a sin. Ephesians 4:26 and 27 warn believers to “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not give the devil an opportunity.” So it is possible to be angry without sinning. Anger can fuel us to take action. Examples might be righteous anger over the sex trafficking of children which motivates us to join a ministry that fights sex trafficking; or the abortion of babies causing us to protest outside of an abortion clinic. Sins like these SHOULD cause us to be angry! God is angered by them and so should we be. Seldom, however, is our anger righteous anger. It is usually self-serving anger. It is the anger of man not God. We get angry because we did not get our way or someone did not live up to our expectations or someone offended us or we felt slighted in some way. That’s why James writes, “For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). Let’s go back to the Ephesians quote for a moment. Do you see how the devil can seize the opportunity of unrighteous anger between two believers to drive a wedge between them and create division? He can and does all the time.
It might surprise you to learn that there are 7 degrees of anger ranging from minimal to maximal expression. Here is each with a brief explanation of the differences:
- Annoyance—Someone or something annoys you or bothers you. You aren’t angry yet but if the annoyance continues you will start down that path.
- Irritation—Annoyance transforms into irritation. Like a pebble in your shoe you are irritated by this person or this behavior. If it doesn’t stop, irritation can turn into . . .
- Resentment—With resentment, our feelings become hurt and we begin a slow burn. Resentment left unchecked leads to bitterness and eventually a grudge which leads to hatred which can lead to murder. Consider Esau who resented the injustices perpetrated on him by Jacob. He consoled himself by plotting Jacob’s murder (Genesis 27:41)!
- Anger—Sooner or later resentment turns into anger. Our emotions are now fully engaged and, if left unchecked, will have dire consequences.
- Fury—Explosive anger that is often seen in bodily and facial expressions. Fury sometimes manifests in physical, emotional, or verbal abuse or violence. It is out-of-control anger.
- Hatred—Anger toward another has built to the point of hatred. We cannot think any good thoughts of the other and we avoid them at all cost. When their name is mentioned we cringe or speak critically of them.
- Murder—Murder can be physical but it can also be verbal. We can verbally murder someone by attacking them with words through slander, defamation, or ridicule.
“So, be careful little mouth what you say. So, be careful little mouth what you say. For the Father up above is looking down in love so be careful little mouth what you say.”