Righteous anger? Don’t be so sure!

I mentioned in my message on Sunday that the emotion of anger is not sinful (see Psalm 4:4; Eph. 4:26). It is simply a strong feeling or emotion of displeasure brought about by a real or perceived unfulfilled desire (see James 4 for a description).

stressed out womanWhile it isn’t always sinful, our flesh very often turns the emotion into a sinful response. This is the danger with anger.

Well, in an article on anger (“Anger Part 1: Understanding Anger,” The Journal of Biblical Counseling vol. 14, no. 1 (Fall 1995): 40-53) David Powlison provides an excellent list of tests to ask and apply in order to discern if your anger is righteous from beginning to end, according to biblical guidelines.

Here they are!

  • Test #1: Do you get angry about the right things?
  • Test #2: Do you express anger in the right way?
  • Test #3: How long does your anger last?
  • Test #4: How controlled is your anger?
  • Test #5: What motivates your anger?
  • Test #6: Is your anger “primed and ready” to respond?
  • Test #7: What is the effect of your anger?

I don’t know about you, but there haven’t been many times in my life where I have experienced the emotion of anger, without also failing one of those tests. The result? I’ve had to confess my anger as sin, often reconcile with others, and allow God to humble me and sanctify me for the next test.

These tests have helped me. I hope they help you too.

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