Anger is a natural human emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. However, the Bible warns us in Proverbs 15:18 that being quick-tempered and easily angered leads to foolishness and sin. In this verse, King Solomon wrote, “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” This ancient wisdom still rings true today and highlights the importance of keeping anger under control.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we see the perfect model of someone who was “slow to anger.” Even when He had every right to be angry at the greed of the money-changers in the temple or the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, He did not sin in His anger. Jesus expressed righteous indignation at sin, but He did so in a measured way, without losing control or resorting to violence or rage.
As followers of Christ, we are called to “be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1). Since God is “slow to anger” (Psalm 103:8), we too should strive to exhibit patience, longsuffering and self-control when we face situations that evoke anger. This goes against our natural human instincts, which is why we need the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit to overcome our knee-jerk reactions to anger-inducing events.
Here are some key reasons why we as Christians should seek to be slow to anger, based on teachings from Scripture:
1. Anger Leads to Sin
The book of Proverbs repeatedly warns that anger or rage often leads people into rash, foolish, and sinful words and actions: “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29); “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” (Proverbs 17:27-28).
When we allow anger to get the best of us, it clouds our judgment and prevents us from responding in a Christlike manner. We are more prone to vindictiveness, insulting speech, violence, or underhanded tactics when we act out of anger. The apostle Paul cautioned believers, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). The key is learning to express anger constructively, not destructively or in a fit of rage.
2. Anger Does Not Produce God’s Righteousness
Some people try to justify hostility and wrath by claiming they are angry “for all the right reasons.” But James 1:19-20 warns us, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
No matter how justified our anger may seem, it simply does not result in righteous words or actions. More often than not, anger produces more strife and dysfunction. This is why James exhorts us to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” As we carefully listen to others and exercise self-control in how we communicate, we are more likely to resolve conflicts peacefully and treat others with compassion.
3. Anger Can Destroy Relationships
Uncontrolled anger strains relationships in marriages, families, friendships, workplaces, and churches. The book of Proverbs notes, “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention” (Proverbs 15:18) and “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man” (Proverbs 22:24).
When we frequently lose our temper and react in anger, it causes hurt and drives people away. Family members may walk on eggshells to avoid triggering an angry outburst. Friends and co-workers may keep their distance. Spouses may become estranged. Even our relationship with God suffers when we harbor bitterness and rage in our hearts.
The good news is that by asking for God’s help to control our anger, we can grow deeper connections with others. Colossians 3:12-13 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other.”
4. Anger Can Ruin Our Health and Testimony
Constant anger and resentment takes a major toll on our bodies, minds, and spirits. Medical research shows that chronically angry people are more prone to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and other health problems.
Unresolved bitterness and rage also poisons our Christian testimony in the eyes of unbelievers. When Christians claim to follow Jesus but frequently blow their tops in anger, it presents a poor witness and turns people away from the faith. Jesus said people would know we are his disciples by our love for one another (John 13:35).
As ambassadors for Christ, we should represent Jesus well by managing anger constructively. While righteous anger against injustice is warranted at times, we must avoid pettiness and strife. Our speech and actions should lead others to “glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).
5. Anger Often Stems from Pride
The root cause of much needless anger is pride. We get offended when we feel we haven’t been treated with the honor and esteem we think we deserve. James 4:1-2 observes, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”
When our selfish pride is threatened because we cannot get what we want, it frequently erupts in anger. But Proverbs teaches, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11). As we grow in humility and selflessness, we become less prone to anger when we are inconvenienced, insulted, or not given our own way.
6. Anger Often Hurts Innocent People
Another danger of uncontrolled anger is that innocent bystanders often get hurt in the crossfire. When tempers flare, the people closest to us unfairly bear the brunt of harsh words or impromptu reactions. Ephesians 4:31 tells us to “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
Children, in particular, suffer emotional scars when they grow up in an angry, hostile home environment. The cycle of anger and rage tends to get passed down to future generations. As Christians, we can break this cycle by learning to manage anger in a godly manner, rather than “stirring up anger” (Proverbs 15:18) through a quick temper.
7. Anger Clouds Our Judgment and Decision-Making
A person who makes important decisions while angry or worked up emotionally is likely to later regret those choices. Proverbs 14:17 notes, “A man of quick temper acts foolishly.” When we are caught up in the heat of anger, our discernment is compromised and our flesh overrides wisdom from the Holy Spirit.
But by exhibiting patience and self-control, we can avoid making rash vows or pronouncements we later come to regret. Proverbs 16:32 observes, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” As we learn to rule our spirit well, we become more thoughtful decision-makers.
8. Anger Often Becomes a Bad Habit
Another reason to nip anger issues in the bud is that anger tends to grow into an entrenched habit over time. Ephesians 4:26 warns us not to “let the sun go down on your anger.” If we allow bitterness and rage to persist day after day, it becomes a toxic mindset and natural default reaction to life’s difficulties.
But by continually surrendering our temper to the Holy Spirit, we can form new, healthy habits of patience and calmness. It takes time and perseverance to unlearn old habits and learn new ones, but the long-term benefits make it well worth the effort.
9. Anger Can Give the Devil a Foothold
Unresolved anger opens the door for the enemy to gain influence in our lives. Ephesians 4:27 cautions believers: “Give no opportunity to the devil.” When we harbor resentment toward others, it grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30-32) and quenches His work in our hearts.
As Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” The enemy seeks to use anger to gain inroads into our thought life and relationships.
10. Jesus Models a Better Way
As already noted, Jesus provides the perfect model of someone who expressed anger free of sin. When He overturned the tables in the temple, He was not throwing an unrestrained tantrum but speaking with godly authority and zeal for his Father’s house (John 2:13-17). Mark 3:5 notes that Jesus looked around in anger but still grieved at the hardness of people’s hearts.
Even in the agony of the cross when He was mocked and abused, Jesus exemplified mercy and grace, praying “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). By following Christ’s example, we too can learn to channel anger into zeal for righteousness instead of destructive rage.
How to Overcome Quickness to Anger
Becoming slow to anger requires diligent practice over time. Here are some biblical strategies to help overcome tendencies toward quick temper, resentment, and hostility:
- Spend time meditating on Bible verses about patience, compassion, and self-control
- Examine your heart and acknowledge the root desires causing anger like pride or selfishness
- Confess anger issues and ask God to change your heart and give you patience
- Learn triggers that stir up anger and plan ahead how to respond calmly
- When angry, separate yourself from the situation until you cool down
- Express your feelings in a constructive way, without hurtful words or actions
- Pray blessing over those who have angered you instead of revenge
- Model grace and forgiveness toward others to reflect Christ’s love
- Cultivate the fruit of the Spirit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness (Galatians 5:22-23)
- Surround yourself with patient, even-tempered Christian mentors
While learning to control anger is challenging, God promises to transform us as we submit to the renewing work of the Holy Spirit. We all stumble at times, but can rest in God’s grace and Christ’s forgiveness as we press on toward maturity.
The Blessings of Being Slow to Anger
When we ask the Lord to help us follow Proverbs 15:18 and become slow to anger, we will reap many blessings, including:
- More peaceful, enjoyable relationships with others
- A calmer spirit and freedom from agitation
- Clearer judgment and decision-making
- Less regret over rash choices made in anger
- A positive Christian testimony that honors Christ
- Better health as less stress impacts the body
- Greater self-control and godly character
- A deeper walk with God and sensitivity to the Spirit
- Protection from the Enemy gaining a foothold in our lives
- The ability to encourage others who struggle with anger
While becoming slow to anger goes against our natural tendencies, the spiritual harvest it produces makes it well worth the effort. Our relationships, personal lives, and Christian witness reap bountiful blessings when we follow the wisdom of Proverbs 15:18.
Anger is a normal human emotion, but the Bible exhorts believers to exhibit exceptional self-control and patience in how we manage anger. Proverbs 15:18 teaches that being quick-tempered leads to foolishness and strife, but controlling anger cultivates peace and understanding.
When we follow Jesus’ example of righteous indignation mixed with mercy and allow the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in our lives, we become slow to anger. This guards us from sin, protects relationships, benefits our health, and enhances our Christian testimony.
While overcoming anger issues requires much prayer, diligence, and time, the rewards are eternally worthwhile. May the Lord help each of us apply the wisdom of Proverbs 15:18, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” Let our lives resound with the gentle, faithful fruit of the Spirit.