You’re a wild animal, and that’s why you get angry. That is the answer to anger according to Doug Fields, an acclaimed neuroscientist and author of several five-star books on mental health. “The human brain is hardwired for explosive violence,” he wrote. “We evolved [such] neural circuits for survival in the wild. We still need them.” The scientific world would have us believe that rage is a survival trait, embedded within us because of evolution. We breathe out hateful words, curse at slow traffic, and snap in fury because of human nature.
Well, the science is not entirely wrong, for even Scripture attests that we sin in anger because of human nature—sin nature, that is. Anger is not an animalistic evolutionary trait acquired from ancient ancestors, however. The reason for our bitterness, clamor, and rage is the evil nature inherited from our first parents, the first sinners—Adam and Eve. According to Jesus, we erupt in fury because of our sinful hearts (Matthew 5:21-22; Mark 7:20-23). You burn with resentment and blow up in madness thanks to your wicked nature, the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).
The Bible is not silent on the serious repercussions of such uncontrolled anger. A blazing temper leads to many other sins: “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression” (Prov. 29:22). Anger leaves you defenseless against spiritual attack: “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov. 25:28). Angry outbursts result in regrettably foolish behavior: “A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated” (Prov. 14:17). Angry tantrums make you look like a fool: “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Prov. 14:29).
To be sure, some anger is justified and completely natural. Righteous indignation is good. God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). Jesus felt angry to the point of flipping tables when He learned that the temple became a wicked bazaar (Mark 11:15-19). And if you love and fear the Lord, you will hate evil (Psalm 97:10; Prov. 8:13).
However, anger must be properly dealt with to prevent a sinful outburst. And Scripture’s solution to anger is twofold: slow down and settle it.
First, slow down: “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” (James 1:19-20). Take a breather. Pray. And think before you speak.
Secondly, settle it: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27). Abolish anger immediately, before the day ends. God will give the grace necessary to overcome anger if you earnestly seek it.
- Fields, Doug. “The Science of Why People ‘Snap’ in Anger.” Time Magazine, Vol. 187, No. 2, January 25, 2016, page number unknown (it got cut off in printing). URL: https://time.com/4180286/the-science-of-why-people-snap-in-anger/
Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.