A study from the series
What Keeps Me from Growing.
by Woodrow Kroll
Today we are taking a look at what the Bible says about anger. We all have gotten angry. We know what it’s like so we think we know what anger is. But let’s take a look at how the Bible defines anger. The predominant Hebrew used in the Bible for anger is the tiny word af in English. You’ll never guess what it means. It means nose or nostril. Apparently the idea of anger comes from the vibrating of the nostrils when one is really upset. Think of a horse exhaling on a cold day. It looks like steam coming from the horse’s nostrils. Some people look like that when they are really, really angry. In the New Testament, the most frequently used word for anger is orge (or-gay). It means agitation of the soul, impulse or indignation. Okay, here’s the picture. Someone does something that irks you. You think about it and think about it. It begins to boil inside of you. You’re like a boiler that is about to blow. You are experiencing agitation in your soul. It’s as if the steam begins to escape through your nostrils. You become flushed. Your nostrils begin to vibrate slightly. You are angry and you are about to blow your top. In the process you say something to your spouse or children that as soon as it slips out of your mouth you wish you had it back. That’s what anger looks like. In his book Poems, C. S. Lewis said that “Anger’s the anesthetic of the mind.” Anger causes us to do and say things we regret. Anger drives our life if we don’t deal with it. Someone has said, “He who angers you, controls you!” That’s true. Have you heard the story about the boy, his anger and the nails in the fence? It goes like this. There once was a little boy who had a very bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he had to hammer a nail into the fence. Amazingly, at the end of the first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails he hammered gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to pound those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and his dad suggested the boy could now pull out one nail for each day he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.” Anger can be deadly and that’s why we need to learn how to get a hold of our anger. It not only disturbs our spirit and messes with our mind, it does a lot of damage to the people we vent our anger on. 1
WHAT KEEPS ME FROM GROWING
All Anger Is Not Sinful Anger Before we talk about the anger that bothers us because it spills over into the lives of people around us, let me say that all anger is not sin. There are two kinds of anger prevalent in the Bible, but one of them is far less prevalent in life today. There is a type of anger of which the Bible approves, often called “righteous indignation.” Frequently the Bible speaks of God getting angry. Psalm 7:11 says, “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.” As Christ-followers we are actually commanded to be angry in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin.” You’ll remember that when Paul had to confront Peter to his face because he was not living as one who had experienced freedom in Christ, one apostle was angry at another apostle. That’s found in Galatians 2:11-14. And think of the story of David when Nathan the prophet told him that story about a rich man with many sheep killing the one little lamb of a poor man. David was incensed at the news, until Nathan said, “You are that man.” You’ll fin