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3 Ways to Tell if Your Anger Is Righteous Anger or Not - And What to Do When It's Not

Aug 18, 2007
One of the greatest ways to avoid arguments in any relationship is through the use of empathy. Empathy is the ability to see and feel things from the other person's perspective. When Jesus came to earth, it was the clearest demonstration of empathy -- he was willing to experience everything from our perspective.

Unfortunately, empathy doesn't come naturally. Instead, it's very natural to see things from our own perspective. Just spend some time with a young child and you'll see how true this is. And God, in his great mercy, gave us a very clear signal that we're focused on ourselves -- and not empathizing with others.

That signal is anger. Granted, there are times when anger is righteous. God demonstrates this fact many times in the Scriptures. But, let's face it, when humans show anger, it is rarely righteous. In fact, most of the time, it's best to assume your anger isn't righteous. But to help clarify the nature of your anger, here are three ways to tell for sure that your anger isn't righteous:

* It's disproportionate. Have you ever been around someone who blows up over the smallest problem? I know someone who used to blow his top every time his computer locked up. And I'm not talking about a simple act of frustration. I'm talking about yelling, screaming, banging his fist on the table. It was way overboard.

Righteous anger, on the other hand, is never disproportionate to the offense or the problem. Righteous anger knows when enough is enough, and it has a good grasp of how to apply justice and mercy. Sinful anger isn't concerned with either. It's concerned with getting it's own way -- and nothing else matters.

* It's repetitive. Are you characterized as an angry person? If so, you know your anger isn't righteous. A righteous man rarely needs anger. That's because anger is a sign of weakness, and righteous men have a quiet strength and confidence in God. But sinful anger manipulates, intimidates, and uses regular outbursts to control other people. It's a regular power play that people use to maintain their position. And it usually comes from fear -- fear that they will lose something if they don't act this way.

* It's impulsive. When other people are around you, do they walk on eggshells, hoping they don't set you off? Do they try to appease you just to make sure you don't get angry? If so, your anger isn't righteous. We know someone who can explode at anytime. She will blast her way out of an uncomfortable situation and then, a few minutes later, act as if nothing ever happened. Worse, she excuses it by saying, "Oh, you know me, that's just how I am sometimes." She doesn't realize (because she doesn't have empathy) that she's left a wake of hurt feelings along the way.

Anger is the opposite of empathy. But we need to thank God that He gave us this signal. It can show us exactly when we're not seeing things from the perspective of others. And if we're attentive to the signal, we can stop arguments before they get out of hand.
About the Author
Steve Kroening writes for Success magazine and also publishes Wisdom's Edge. You can get Biblical tips on health, finance, relationships, parenting, and success, delivered to your email inbox every week. Simply visit http://www.wisdomsedge.com and sign up for this free e-zine.
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