What triggers our anger? Regardless of what you call anger (frustration, annoyance, irritation, fury, rage, resentment, hate, etc.) what ignites it? There are many sources or causes of anger, let me give you four.
This is where your heart is wounded. Everyone has a God-given inner need for unconditional love, to be accepted. When you experience rejection or emotional pain of any kind, anger can become a protective wall that keeps people, pain, and hurt away.
A Biblical example of this is the twelve sons of Jacob. Joseph was the undisputed favorite of the twelve sons of Jacob. Feeling hurt and rejected by their father, the older sons became angry and vindictive toward their younger brother. We are told, “Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph – a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him” (Genesis 37:3-4, NLT). The brothers became angry because their heart had been wounded. The initial reaction of their anger prevented them from saying kind words to him. They were rude, obnoxious, unkind, and ungracious towards him whenever they spoke. It’s okay to be angry whenever you are hurt, but do not sin in your anger (Eph. 4:26).
This is where you believe your rights or someone else’s rights are violated. Everyone has an inner moral code that produces a sense of right and wrong, fair and unfair, just and unjust. When you perceive that an injustice has occurred against you or others (especially those whom you love), you may feel angry. If you hold on to the offense, the unresolved anger can begin to make a home in your heart.
A Biblical example of this is King Saul. King Saul’s unjust treatment of David evoked Jonathan’s anger. When Jonathan, Saul’s son, heard his father pronounce a death sentence on his close friend David, he asked, “’But why should he be put to death?’ Jonathan asked his father. ‘What has he done?’ Then Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan, intending to kill him. So at last Jonathan realized that his father was really determined to kill David. Jonathan left the table in fierce anger…” (1 Samuel 20:32-34, NLT). Jonathan saw an injustice and that injustice aroused a fierce anger within Jonathan. When you see an injustice how do you react? How do you feel? When sense an injustice toward others or yourself it’s all right to get angry, but do not sin in your anger (Eph. 4:26).
Everyone is created with a God-given inner need for security. When you begin to worry, feel threatened, or get angry because of a change in circumstances, you may be responding to fear.
A Biblical example of this is King Saul. Saul became angry because of David’s many successes on the battlefield. He felt threatened by David’s popularity and feared he would lose his kingdom (see 1 Samuel 18:5-15, 28-29). In 1 Samuel 18 we are told, “This made Saul very angry. ‘What’s this?’ he said. ‘They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!’ So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David” (1 Samuel 18:8-9, NLT). Eventually we are told that Saul became “afraid of David” (v.12). Sometimes our fear of change, fear of loss, fear of someone else taking over causes us to become angry. When this happens do not sin in your anger (Eph. 4:26).
This is where you feel your performance is not accepted. Everyone has a God-given inner need for significance. When your efforts are resisted or do not meet your own personal expectations, your sense of significance can be threatened. Frustration over unmet expectations (your own or others) is a major source of anger.
A Biblical example is Cain. Both Cain and Abel brought offerings to God, but Cain’s offering was clearly unacceptable. Cain had chosen to offer what he himself wanted to give rather than what God said was right and acceptable. When Cain’s self-effort was rejected, his frustration led to anger, and his anger led him to murder his own brother. Genesis 4 describes it this way, “When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift – the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected…. One day Cain suggested to his brother, ‘Let’s go out into the fields.’ And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him” (vs. 3-4, 8; NLT). When a person feels rejection they often lash out at those around them. You may not kill someone, but you may try to make their life miserable or express yourself to them so they feel rejected as well. When you feel frustrated or rejected be careful not to sin in your anger (Eph. 4:26).
You will sense anger when you feel hurt, injustice, fear, or frustration/rejection. Remember God says, “In your anger do not sin” (Eph. 4:26) and be “slow to become angry” (James 1:19) because an angry person can “commit many sins” (Proverbs 29:22).