Anger is the deadliest sin that people have forsaken.
I remember one time meeting my pastor and he mentioned, “I don’t think sex or money that really gets pastors in trouble. It’s power and anger that gets pastors in real trouble.” I couldn’t agree even more with him. I’ve witnessed pastors who are filled with anger that over time leads them to be bitter shepherds.
I have seen the destructive power of anger in relationships, especially in marriages. I’ve counseled many couples over the past several years with anger problems that kills a marriage way more often than sexual misconduct.
I will do a simple scriptural study from 1 Peter 5:6-7 on anger, pride, and humility.
1. Pray for Humility and Realize Life is Not About You
As a pastor, I’ve heard many people say, “Sure, I was angry, but I had the right to be angry. After all, didn’t Jesus Christ get angry?” and self-justify their anger that they feel entitled to feel so. How often have you heard that?
At the root definition of sinful anger is selfishness. Sinful anger is fueled by pride. Verse 6; “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,” (Ταπεινώθητε οὖν ὑπὸ τὴν κραταιὰν χεῖρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἵνα ὑμᾶς ὑψώσῃ ἐν καιρῷ)
Mighty hand (κραταιὰν χεῖρα). A phrase found nowhere else in the New Testament, but occurring in the Septuagint, Ex. 3:19; Deut. 3:24; Job 30:21. The adjective κραταιὰν, mighty, is, moreover, used only here. Compare Luke 1:51, 52.
We tend to conceal our sins, covering them with spiritual whiteout. We must first expose our pseudo-righteous anger. This requires repenting not only of the anger itself, which we now discover to have been sinful anger but also of our self-deceived justification of it in the name of “righteous” anger.
One must humble himself/herself before the mighty hand of God.
As a result, those who obey God in this manner find the promise that God may lift you up in due time. Trusting God in this way is another way to resist Satan, who would invite us in the midst of our pain to curse God and die. Trusting God ultimately leads to exaltation by him in “due time.” This description means either the time of Christ’s second coming or a time near at hand. God will bring persecution to an end. This truth is expressed by Grudem:
In the time that God deems best—whether in this life or in the life to come, He may lift you up from your humble conditions and exalt you in the way that seems best to Him—perhaps only in terms of increased spiritual blessings and deeper fellowship with Himself, perhaps in terms of responsibility, reward or honor which will be seen by others as well (Grudem, 195).1
Even in the book of James, the solution to interpersonal conflict is shockingly vertical! We must repent. We must grieve, mourn, and wail. Repentance is serious business and issues forth in emotional sorrow over sin.
ἵνα ὑμᾶς, in order that in you may be fulfilled that law of the kingdom of God, “he that shall humble himself, shall be exalted,”
Don’t play the victim mentality but rather see yourself as a sinner in need of Christ. Cut the fuel supply of anger that ultimately leads to bitterness. You will soon find out, that self-justifying anger will hold you captive to the grave.
There is only one way to put to end to sinful-anger: Humility.
So, brethren, humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, so He may exalt you at the proper time.
2. Pray and Cast All Your Cares and Turn to Christ Most human anger is sinful. The biblical record confirms this.
Verse 7; “Casting all your anxieties on him, because z he cares for you.” (πᾶσαν τὴν μέριμναν ὑμῶν ἐπιῤῥίψαντες ἐπ᾽ αὐτόν ὅτι αὐτῷ μέλει περὶ ὑμῶν)
Ταπεινώθητε repeats the idea of ταπεινοῖς and of ταπεινοφροσύνην referred to in v. 5 and should be translated so as to make this evident: “be lowly,” the effective aorist-imperative.
Cast means “to throw something upon someone or something else.” This word suggests a deliberate decision of trust. We are to trust God with our anxiety, the things we worry about. The term (merimnan) means “to be drawn in different directions, to be divided or distracted.” Whatever we are anxious about tends to distract us from trusting God. It tends to pull us in different directions so that we do not depend on him. When we limp in this direction, we do not resist Satan but play into his hand. He wants us to put more trust in ourselves and others as opposed to God.
What is your response to anger? Do you rail against him or her? Do you ignore or withdraw from the person you’re angry with? Or do you simply kick the dog or the door? If so, your anger is not Christ-like. Cast all your anxiety and cares unto Christ. 2
v7. All your care (πᾶσαν τήν μέριμναν). The whole of your care. “Not every anxiety as it arises, for none will arise if this transference has been effectually made.” Care. See Matt. 6:25, take no thought. Rev., rightly, anxiety.
St. Augustine of Hippo understood this in his famous work The Confessions, the fourth-century church father comments on a time when he became angry. How did Augustine respond?
“My heart hated them, though not with a ‘perfect hatred’ (Ps. 139:22), for perhaps I hated them more because I was to suffer by them than because they did things utterly unlawful” (emphasis added).
To refuse to surrender our anger is to welcome the devil to wreak havoc in our hearts and relationships.
He careth (μέλει). Meaning the watchful care of interest and affection. The sixth and seventh verses should be taken together: Humble yourselves and cast all your anxiety. Pride is at the root of most of our anxiety. To human pride it is humiliating to cast everything upon another and be cared for. See Jas. 4:6, 7.
Response to our Anger Problem
All sinful anger is hard to fight. I realize too, the older I get, the more I self-justify my own pseudo-anger problems. As John Piper said in Desiring God so well, “One of the most difficult battles of the Christian life is not to be angry when you’re not supposed to be angry.” 3
He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a ‘Christian’ without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd. God isn’t interested in simply tweaking your behavior or stepping up your morality. He is all about radically transforming your entire life.
Christ is sovereign over all and He is in control of all the universe. Humble yourself before the Lord, and cast all your anxiety unto Him.
1 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England :
Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1994).
2 Robert D. Jones, Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help for a Common Problem (Phillipsburg, N.J: P & R
3 Desiring God et al., Killjoys: The Seven Deadly Sins, ed. Marshall Segal, 1 edition (Desiring God,
Jonathan Hayashi, Ph.D.
Dr. Jonathan Hayashi has a B.A. of Pastoral Ministry, M.A. of Congregational Leadership, and a D.Ed.Min. of Biblical Counseling. He presently serves on the Executive Committee at Southwest Baptist University (Bolivar, MO) and on the Board of Trustees at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jonathan is a contributor for the bi-weekly journal, Pathway (Missouri Baptist Convention), and is the author of Ordinary Radicals: A Return to Christ-Centered Discipleship, as well as Making Lemonade: Turning Past Failures into Gospel Opportunities. He is a certified biblical counselor with the ACBC. He and his wife, Kennedi, have four children: Kaede, Seiji, Anna, and Ren.