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How to Be Angry without Sin--Anger Like Jesus'

Updated on August 19, 2011

"He (Jesus) looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored."--Mark 3:5, NIV

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice."--Ephesians 4:31, NIV

Do those two verses seem somehow incompatible? Does it seem odd that Paul commands us, in the words of the KVJ, to let all anger be put away from us, yet Jesus was angry? Earlier in the same chapter (4:26), Paul quotes Psalm 4:4: in anger, do not sin. There is the key. Anger is sometimes sinful, but not always.

Human Anger

I know when I get angry: when I'm frustrated or thwarted or when someone acts unpleasant toward me. My anger, in those cases, focuses on me, my desires, and my not seeing those desires immediately fulfilled.

I also know what will probably happen as a result of my anger if I don't deliberately keep it from developing. I will very likely say or do something unpleasant and inappropriate, and if someone else responds unpleasantly, a bad situation will become worse. But I find it easier to curb my my actions, or even my tongue, than my mind.

Even if I say nothing in my anger, the real danger comes in letting an unpleasant incident fester in my mind. As I replay it again and again, saying or doing nasty and vengeful things in my imagination, I can't concentrate on anything else.

Reading, listening to music, praying, getting to sleep all become impossible. I'm no good to myself or anyone else until I can get control of my thoughts and cast the repeating imaginary dialog out of my mind. I don't even want to know what kind of biochemical activity happens within my body with that anger silently churning within me.

Perhaps you, the reader, behave very differently in anger. Perhaps your reaction is more verbally or physically confrontational than mine. Perhaps you manage to deny even to yourself that you are angry at all--and then respond with passive aggression. In any case, if it controls you, it damages you and, potentially, people around you.

People get angry at different kinds of things and behave in different ways as a response, but the root probably grows from selfishness more often than not. Even righteous indignation at some injustice can be self-centered if we either identify with the victim and feel the same anger had the same injustice happened to us, or if we judge the aggressor for doing something we ourselves would never do.

A different example of Jesus' anger: Christ Expelling the Money Changers, by Nicolas Colombel (1682)
A different example of Jesus' anger: Christ Expelling the Money Changers, by Nicolas Colombel (1682)

Jesus' Anger

The verse from Mark comes in the context of Jesus attending a synagogue service in Capernaum. He had already told Pharisees that he, the Son of Man, was Lord of the Sabbath. They were ready for him. The congregation included a man with a withered hand. I suspect the Pharisees may have even brought him to the synagogue for their little test. Would Jesus heal on the Sabbath?

Jesus asked the man to stand in front of the congregation and asked the Pharisees which was legal: to do good or evil? To save life or to kill? They did not respond to his question at all, either by word or by softening the stony judgmentalism on their faces.

It is at that point Mark says that Jesus looked around in anger. Had his critics done anything to him? No. Did they prevent him from reaching one of his goals? Certainly not. Crowds coming for healing when Jesus wanted to teach or pray quietly thwarted Jesus with some regularity, but he never got angry with them. Try as they might, the Pharisees never managed to thwart Jesus.

Why, then, did he become angry? Because no one in the congregation really cared about the man with the withered hand. Apparently no one seriously doubted that Jesus would heal on the Sabbath, but many disapproved. They figured the man could keep suffering until at least the next day in order to preserve their sense of decorum.

Mark does not say that Jesus was angry at the people in the congregation, or even just the Pharisees. He says Jesus was distressed at their stubborn hearts. They thought they knew what godly behavior looked like on the outside, but they showed no sign of love orĀ  compassion on the inside.

In other words, Jesus got angry at the sin on display and not at any of the sinners either corporately or individually. Jesus' anger remained appropriate, focused, controlled by the Holy Spirit, and soon dissipated. His human ego remained untouched by his godly anger. He perfectly demonstrated how to be angry without sinning.


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    • allpurposeguru profile imageAUTHOR

      David Guion 

      5 years ago from North Carolina

      And thank you for your testimony!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      That's a great article, thank you so much. See I was feeling a bit down because I really let it rip to my sister because she had been so rude and disrespectful to my parents. I don't hate her, but I hated how she was behaving by refusing to apologize to them. I now understand that I hated her sin and not her. Thank you for aiding me in seeing this!

    • allpurposeguru profile imageAUTHOR

      David Guion 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you, SandCastles

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Beautiful Article.

    • allpurposeguru profile imageAUTHOR

      David Guion 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      And thanks for commenting, kenyanXstian. Welcome to Hub Pages.

    • kenyanXstian profile image

      Eword Media Unit 

      6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Its called holy anger. Thanks for the article

    • allpurposeguru profile imageAUTHOR

      David Guion 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      It's a hard balance to find. You're certainly not alone. Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      jon gilliland 

      6 years ago

      I don't know how to be firm and nice at the same time I'm always accused of being to soft help what to do

    • allpurposeguru profile imageAUTHOR

      David Guion 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      I don't know if you'll see this reply, Dr. Richman, since you're apparently not on HubPages. I went to Castle Garden and no content appeared. The author's name there is "Alexander." I went to Art Legends and saw lots of reproductions of paintings--and my HP pen name in a headline for some reason--but had to scroll way down to find any links. I did not find your other blogs. You seem to have some technical issues that need fixing.

      I, too, am disappointed with my traffic and my income. I, too, find little or no support for my activities among friends and family. I, too, feel like I get no respect for my lifetime efforts in music, etc. I don't know what to tell you about any of that, but I'm not tossing your comment out of the way. It is a heartfelt cry for help. Unfortunately, I can't offer much help except to say that your anger will not change your friends or your wife. It will only harm you. I pray that you will find someone to talk to about both the technical and emotional issues you have raised here. I hope it at least helps some that I have responded.

    • profile image

      Jordan Paul Richman 

      7 years ago

      I posted your article on Jullien in my If you check out my you will see my other blogs listed.

      I have been blogging for a year now with mixed results. The Art Legends blog has had nearly 7,000 visitors, but the others are pretty low. On the issue of anger I have have lots and lots of anger at the responses of my friends and wife who spurn this activity as the work of the devil. I do not understand their reactions as it is impossible to talk to them about it.

      As someone engaged in the same blog activity I would really welcome your thoughts and advice on my anger problems.

      But in back of my mind, as I write this comment, I feel you will toss it out the way all the others have done with my liftime efforts in music and the humanities.


      Dr. Jordan Paul Richman

    • allpurposeguru profile imageAUTHOR

      David Guion 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Yes, vocalcoach, once we learn something of the truth, it can be painful to watch those who haven't caught on yet. It's a test for us to make sure we respond according to the Spirit of God and not the spirit of this world.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Excellent lesson on "Anger". It is important to express anger at the deed and not at the person. When I over hear a parent scold a child, using the child as the "bad thing", its all I can do to bite my tongue and calm myself down. Thanks for this article. I like your "distinction between feeling angry and acting angrily with intent to harm." Absolutely magnificent!

      Rated up.

    • allpurposeguru profile imageAUTHOR

      David Guion 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks. That's a good distinction between feeling angry and acting angrily with intent to harm.

    • klanguedoc profile image

      Kevin Languedoc 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Being angry sometimes is ok. I don't believe this is a sin. We are only expressing a feeling. Being angry and acting out our anger to harm someone, through our thoughts, verbally or physically is sinful. When we act on our anger, we did die a little in God's heart. After living with anger for a long time, our heart becomes empty and our soul withers. We have lost our communion with God. People who live with anger, and bitterness, are lost souls. They need to find God by letting go of their anger and letting God back in to hearts.

    • allpurposeguru profile imageAUTHOR

      David Guion 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      You're right, zbest: Jesus' anger arose when necessary, accomplished its purpose, and went away. And it never involved his own ego. If anger lingers, no matter how justified it may seem, there would appear to be some personal hurt involved. That alone makes it less than righteous. It must be purged, for all the same reasons as the most selfish anger.

    • zbest profile image


      8 years ago

      Anger and not being able to forgive what terrible tools for the enemy of our soul. I have to work hard at "casting my care upon Him" and forgiving others after all worry and unforgiveness only damages me. Good article on righteous anger. Even righteous anger I think needs to be purged for victorious living. Being angry at sin not the sinner is probably a good saying or attitude.

    • allpurposeguru profile imageAUTHOR

      David Guion 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      That's a great image, heart4theword. Unrighteous anger, or unrighteous anything, is a burden God never intended for us to carry. Thanks for your comment.

    • heart4theword profile image


      8 years ago from hub

      Sometimes I think the root of anger can stem from, another person sinning against you. Treating a person wrongly, is just cruel on their part. It seems some have so much anger, it just spills out upon others:( I got a word picture out of what you said: Leaving the anger at the curb, before you walk across the street, or towards another.

      Great Hub!, Not a subject many want to talk about, even though they are dealing with it, in one way or another:)

      God is so merciful, to bring healing to us, when we have anger or resentment issues:)

    • allpurposeguru profile imageAUTHOR

      David Guion 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      And thank you for dropping by.

    • Sky321 profile image


      8 years ago from Canada

      Great hub! Thank you for sharing.


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