Posted by: Heather | July 5, 2010

The True Root of Anger

James 4:1-2  From whence come wars and fightings among you?  Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?  2  Ye lust, and have not:  and desire to have, and cannot obtain:  ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

Raising children can be such an adventure at times, especially when there are 5 of them.  It seems there’s always some type of disagreement or fight going on about something.  Usually, it’s over an issue that makes absolutely no difference in the grand scheme of things.  In parenting, I will often remind my children of this, and ask them if what they’re fighting over really matters in the long run.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.  I’ve learned, at the times my reasoning doesn’t work, it’s usually because lust becomes so strong in a child to get what he or she wants.  They want the toy the other is playing with, or they think they didn’t get as much computer time as another child.  Many times, it doesn’t even revolve around material things.  “He’s looking at me too much”, or “She’s touching me!”  are sometimes heard among the ranks.

I think back to my own childhood, and see the same thing.  I guess this is just something that happens naturally on our way to maturity.  We learn as we grow (if we’re growing in the Lord), that these things really make no difference from an eternal perspective.  We want what we want, when we want it.  But, even looking at the present, can we say we’ve matured past that?  I’m afraid as a whole, we can’t.  Sure, we may not be fighting over toys, computer time, or someone looking at us.  But, the quarrels are still there.

I look at myself and the times I have gotten angry with a family member because I felt I ‘deserved’ time to myself to get things done, and all I got was constant interruption.   There have been times I got angrier and angrier until I just couldn’t hold it anymore.  If we feel someone has done us wrong, can we let go of it?  Sometimes we can, sometimes we can’t.  Often anger results in both parties because of these exchanges.  In most cases, our anger brings greater conflict, rather than resolution.   Anger is always rooted in lust.  Like a child, we’re not getting ‘what we want, when we want, and how we want it’.  We’re human, and it’s a natural human emotion to become angry at times.  But, when we get angry, we must be extremely careful not to let sin enter in through that anger.  Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us “Be ye angry, and sin not:  let not the sun go down upon your wrath.  27  Neither give place to the devil.”

I’ve heard a great deal about ‘righteous anger’, but this is not a term we find in scripture.  Unless I’m mistaken, I only see one instance in scripture where Jesus seemed to be angry.  The Bible doesn’t say He was angry, but it is often assumed.  If he was in fact angry, his anger had nothing to do with himself.  It had everything to do with those defiling the temple of God by their greed (lust…again, the root of the problem).   If we’re honest with ourselves, our anger usually doesn’t stem from something so important.

In the scripture, when we see anger displayed by God (in the Old Testament), it is generally using the Hebrew word ‘aph’.  ‘Aph’ doesn’t mean anger like we think of our human emotion anger.  The actual definition is a hard breathing through the nostrils.  God doesn’t display anger the same way humans do.  He does have displeasure at His children disobeying His commands, and grief when they continually disobey.   Exodus 34:6-7 (NIV)  says “…the LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,  7  maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin.  Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” Never fret.  Sin will be rewarded, no matter who the offending party is.  The principle of sowing and reaping is effective in every aspect of life.  God will not allow sin to go unpunished.  This is something we can rely on, when we think we must get involved in a dispute.

Certainly, we should stand up for what is right.  Injustice is wrong, and Jesus did that in the temple.  However, there are ways to do that without further destroying relationships.  The problem with the idea of ‘righteous anger’ is that generally both parties in a dispute feel they are displaying it, when careful examination reveals that usually neither is.  Almost 100% of the time, our anger is selfish.   Selfish anger says ‘my feelings and what I want are more important than you’.  We may not see it that way at the time.  In fact, I can guarantee that most of the time I don’t, when I’m guilty.  But, when the conviction of the Lord comes, I begin to see it, and where I’ve fallen short.

In every situation where a dispute is present, from my home to the larger arenas I’m a part of, it’s important to target the true force at work.  It is lust, in some form or another.  Lust is always the root of human anger, and this is something the Bible instructs us to put away.  Ephesians 4:31-32  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:  32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Disputes will come and go over our lifetimes.  There are times that resolution does not seem to come.   Either situations change, or all parties involved will refuse to work together.  In my home, sometimes the best I can do at times is to separate my children from each other in their anger, until I can deal with minds and hearts that are more receptive.  I can’t ‘divorce’ my children (or at least that’s not acceptable in my worldview), so we must push through the quarrel until the offending parties can resolve their anger.  In other, larger circumstances, this cannot be the case…there are some that refuse to allow the Lord to bring their issues to the forefront to be dealt with, and the obstacles seem insurmountable.

When a dispute comes to this place, the solution is to pray for the leading of the Lord.  At times, He may lead you to stay involved, and be part of working the whole thing through.  At other times, He may instruct you to cut your losses and move on.  In either case, it can be done without causing further damage to yourself and others.  No matter how it turns out, from the smallest dispute to the largest, there is a time of healing and restoration to go through.  That period of time can be short or long, depending on the severity of the hurt.  But in the end, if we put our trust in God, we will be stronger and better able to handle those disputes in the future without falling prey to lust and one of its many manifestations…anger.

I hope you all have a blessed week in the Lord!



  1. Heather, I mentioned on your facebook that this was “enough said ( and beautifully). I want to reiterate that here and say that after re-reading that I still believe that and I will be praying about the “pushback” you are getting over it. Possibly you can see it as a temptation against your insight on the subject. Satan knows the Truth when he sees it and loves nothing more than to try and break us when we speak (write) it. Forge ahead, my sister, I’m praying ardently for you and your gifts.

    • Briggs, thank you so much. I believe your evaluation is right on. Thanks very much for your support and encouragement. Love you, girl!

  2. Beautifully written, articulate, scriptural, and delivered with a gentle and sweet spirit! Absolutely 100% doctrinally and scripturally correct. POWERFUL and PASTORAL! BG

    • Glenn, thanks so much! I appreciate that immensely, coming from a pastor. 🙂

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