The Hidden and Surprising Side of Anger

August 1, 2013

The angry man is a sad man. He is also a reckless man. But did you know the angry man is probably a scared man too? Most sinful anger is born out of insecurity. He is fearful he is not going to get what he wants, so he uses anger as a manipulative means to make sure his craving heart is satisfied.

Part of this war within that James talked about (James 4:1-3) is a complexity of interrelated fears, shame, and guilt that churns inside the angry person. These were the first outpourings from Adam’s heart, shortly after he chose not to do things God’s way (Genesis 3:6-12). If you decide to do things your way, you, like Adam, will walk away from the Lord. This kind of rebellion makes you the functional “god” over your life.

If you ever tried to rely on yourself rather than the Lord, you know how hard it is to be the functional god of your life (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). You cannot do God’s job. You cannot control all outcomes, which is why anger becomes a “go to” tool in the arsenal of the weak individual.

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Resistance Is Futile

This self-centered worldview is typically learned early in the angry person’s life. Perhaps as a child, he figured out how to manipulate his parents by using childish anger to bend the parents to fill his craving heart.

Maybe his parents resisted, which was his cue to stiffen his will and double-down his effort. His unmet desire morphed into a pouting demand, which was the pivotal moment in the parent/child relationship.

If they caved to his idolatrous demands, they would find it harder to resist him in the future. This kind of parental capitulation to a child’s will shapes him to become the god of his universe. Rather than developing his heart toward the Lord, they set the child on the throne of his heart (and the family). Their home becomes child-centered. The kid’s twisted mind and self-centered deductions would convince him that he’s the sole arbiter of how things ought to be.

I am describing what a functional god worldview looks like for an angry idolator. Somebody has to be a god, so his childlike arrogance dupes him into believing he is the only one worthy of that mantle.

Index Forward: Now he’s an adult. The angry man is a bigger version of the kid sitting on the floor throwing a tantrum, manipulating others to get what he wants. It’s the same anger, born out of a similar insecurity (fear). His unbridled Adamic nature has now morphed into a habit, a way of life. He may be a Christian, but he brought his former manner of life into his Christian experience (Ephesians 4:22). Anger is the portal that permits him to access his desires.

Anger And Habits

There is a thin line between making demands out of fear (“I’m not going to get what I want.”) and making demands out of habit. A child not parented well will learn how to satiate his fears through anger. If he continues down that path, it will become his habituation (Galatians 6:1-2). Anger is the means to get what his heart craves.

As you look back on his life, you will see how his habituated anger has worked for him. There will be a string of broken relationships his anger has carved up. “Gods” of your making are not cooperating idols. Those so-called “gods” will devastate your relationships and incarcerate your soul.

Sinful anger has a twist of irony. He appears to be strong and in charge. His bellowing convinces you of his power. The truth is that the angry man is weak, broken, and insecure.

It takes no strength to submit to an habituated way of life to blow up at someone. It takes a lot of strength to submit yourself to the power of the Holy Spirit while walking under His influence and control (Galatians 5:22-23).

The angry person never learns this lesson from the Spirit. Though he has human power (anger), he does not have spiritual power (Spirit) that controls his human power. The book of Proverbs gives us insight regarding this lack of “spiritual power over your human power” problem.

  • Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. – Proverbs 16:32
  • Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. – Proverbs 14:29
  • A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression. – Proverbs 29:22

The person who is slow to anger is submitting his human power to the strength of the Spirit (James 1:19). Fallen Adamic anger needs God’s power to harness it. If not, it will pour over the dam of your heart and hurt people. The angry individual is weaker than he realizes.

Let Me Illustrate: Imagine the cap of a fire hydrant popping off. The cap is weaker than the force of the water. If the cap could withstand the force of the water, it would be stronger than the force of the water.

Ultimately, the angry man shows his lack of submission to the Holy Spirit–the only One who can speak peace into his heart. In such a case, to be sinfully angry is to be without God, which makes this kind of person dangerous.

Call to Action

The angry individual is so elevated in his mind that he cannot see the entanglements of his heart. Thinking you are somebody that you are not will cut you loose from the moorings of Christ and motivate you to unleash your anger on anyone who does not do as you please. Christ is the only solution but seeing Him is hard from such a lofty perch (James 4:6).

  1. Do you perceive that you’re an angry person?
  2. Will you confess your sinful anger to the Lord?
  3. Ask Him to lead you to a friend who will help you walk out repentance.



This post was originally posted to RickThomas.com.


7 thoughts on “The Hidden and Surprising Side of Anger

  1. I appreciated this article and insights into the invasive, holistic nature of anger–how one morphs from getting angry to being angry. I do, however, disagree with this paragraph: Because he is a god, he is breaking the first commandment, which functionally disqualifies him from leading you. You cannot absolutely follow someone who is not following the true and living God (1 Corinthians 11:1).
    There is no Scripture that “disqualifies” a husband from leading his wife or a wife from submitting to her husband. Marital roles do not hinge on a husband’s ability or worthiness, but on God’s sovereign will and good purpose. It is true that a godly wife does not follow her husband’s example at all times–angry or not, we are all fallible. But God can use even an angry man to sanctify another and glorify Himself (Romans 8:28-29). An angry husband falls under the descriptor, “all things.”

  2. I think this is a much-subject of focus in the body of Christ. Thank you for the faith and courage to write and post it. Anger and jealousy are significant, disqualifying sins, not only in marriage, but also ministry. Facing, confessing, and repenting of these sins result in God-glorifying healing and reconciliation.

  3. So what are your thoughts on Proverbs 19:19? A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.

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  7. This is a very enlightening post and is most helpful. In fact, as I was reading, I actually was reminded of someone I’ve tried to minister to who exhibits this sin in his life. However, I must agree with Sydney concerning the idea that a man is disqualified from leading in the home because of anger. There is no scriptural warrant for that statement, with all due respect.

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