I easily identify with this definition since it is challenging to control emotion while simultaneously believing in something I view as important. And as a parent, I have marched into situations as a "Mama Bear" where I was defending my children. Now in my seventh decade of life, I remain an activist with strong opinions. I have grown to appreciate and embrace as best I can that my passions must be governed by wisdom. Wisdom requires self-control. And I cannot access self-control unless I ask for the power of the Holy Spirit.
The bible gives signposts, warnings, and promises:
• Proverbs 29:11 “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” Wise people will aim toward calm while simultaneously expressing passion about what or who they value.
• Proverbs 3:13 “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding.” It’s good to be reminded that blessings come when we find wisdom.
• James 1:19-20 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” This verse is also instructive. Take note especially of these words HUMAN ANGER. Human anger will lead to name calling, abusive conversation, and yes, fights, murders, and wars.
Another kind of anger is RIGHTEOUS ANGER. Its definition is “a reactive emotion of anger over mistreatment, insult, or malice of another.” It rests on divine or moral law where anger rises up during unjust, mean, or unworthy situations. Our best example for righteous anger- also called indignation- is Jesus Himself.
This story is told in all four gospels. Matthew 21:12-13 “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” He said to them,“ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” Scripture went on to say in John 2:13-16, “And making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And He told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade." It was clear that Jesus was defending His Father in heaven and was angry that the house of prayer had been overtaken by buying, selling, and commerce. The Temple’s purpose had been subverted from holy into profane. Religious leaders of the day had allowed the Temple to become a place of greed rather than glorifying God.
Might I add that Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi displayed righteous anger-in civil and gentle ways- for just causes where others had suffered mistreatment but they displayed passion governed by wisdom! I found a quote by St. Thomas Aquinas, (1225-1274) who was a venerated theologian, jurist, and Italian Dominican Friar. Here’s his viewpoint articulated in his Summa Theologiae: “He that is angry without cause, shall be in danger; but he that is angry with cause, shall not be in danger: for without anger, teaching will be useless, judgments unstable, crimes unchecked.” His conclusion was that “to be angry is therefore not always evil.”
In summation, “Be angry but do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26