One thing is for certain about anger: It doesn’t feel the same to everyone. In fact, its definition may change depending on whom you ask.
I define anger as a strong, intense feeling of displeasure, hostility, or indignation resulting from a real or imagined threat, insult, injustice, or frustration to you or others who are important to you.
There’s a lot packed into that definition! Let’s break it down and take a look at it phrase by phrase:
1. Anger is intense. Countless things in life can cause you to feel upset or frustrated. If not checked and dealt with right away, feelings of anger can grow in intensity and extend beyond the moment.
2. Anger is a feeling. God, who created every aspect of our being for our good, made us feel and express emotions. He created us with a capacity to feel love, joy, and peace. The Lord also allows us to experience frustration, hate, and fear. He gave us specific emotions to help us intuitively, instinctively, and immediately recognize danger, injustice, and evil intent.
3. Anger encompasses other feelings. Emotions linked to anger are usually ones of displeasure, hostility, or indignation. All these are negative feelings, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re wrong. They’re legitimate emotions, but they don’t need to be expressed in negative behaviors.
4. Anger comes in response to a threat—real or imagined. Each of us has a built-in fight-or-flight mechanism gifted to us by God for our human survival. And when we feel wronged or hurt in some way, our instinctive response is most often one of anger.
5. Anger can follow a threat of loss. You can become angry over a threat aimed at you personally or at someone important to you.
Our emotions are never to rule over us. We’re to be the master of our responses and reactions (Prov. 16:32). The moment we feel the intense emotion of anger, the first thing we must ask ourselves is, How should I respond? Ideally, our emotions will be filtered through a will that’s bent toward God’s purposes and commandments. However, if the filter has been damaged or has never been put in place, emotions will usually give rise to behavior that’s unchecked. And emotions not subjected to godly thinking tend to run amok and cause great damage eventually.