Time Out: The danger of anger (Moses)

Topic / Time Out

Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)

Anger is one of those sins that we all struggle with. We seem to explain it away by saying it is the fault of the one who caused it, or it is just the kind of person we are. While there certainly is a right time and right way to be angry, most of the anger we deal with is destructive to ourselves and to others. Take Moses as an example. Moses was gifted, intelligent and a wonderful leader. But he had one problem that kept him from entering the promised land – his anger.

When trying to protect a Jewish slave, he killed an Egyptian in anger. Later he got angry at Pharaoh for not allowing the Jews to leave Egypt. And when he came down from Mt. Sinai with the tablets of the law and saw the Jews sinning, he threw them down and broke them in anger. But the final straw, after a lifetime of God working with him so he would overcome his anger problem, was when he struck the rock, twice, instead of just speaking to it as God had said. Moses defeated many great enemies in his lifetime, but was defeated by one that overcame him – his own anger.

Anger that is sinful is a secondary emotion. Instead of feeling pain or fear (both primary emotions) we substitute anger instead. When we are hurt and don’t want to admit the pain, but turn it against other people or things in anger. When we are afraid of something we often try to control it by anger, for the adrenaline rush we get and the control we gain over others who give in to our anger seem to deed our misconception. But in truth, pain can only be handled by feeling and working through the pain. Fear can only be handled by admitting and working through the fear. It’s harder, but healthier. What about your anger – is it a cover for pain, or a way of trying to control circumstances? Keep note today, you may be surprised by what you discover. The best cure for anger is to properly handle the primary emotion behind it – pain or fear.

Psalm 4:4, “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.”

Ephesians 4:26-28, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Proverbs 19:11, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

Proverbs 14:29, “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.”


  • Would those who know you best describe you as an angry person?
  • When you do you have the most problem with your anger?
  • Take some time to pray and confess your anger. Ask God for the fruit of patience in your life. Write out a plan of better ways to respond instead of anger.


Jerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!

Posted on November 16, 2008

  • Chris

    I want to offer a clarification, here Tim. Anger cannot be a “sin.” What we do with angry emotions can result in sinful actions, but if we are to call anger sin, then God has fallen into sin on numerous occasions. Of course there are distinctions between God’s anger and the angry way humans react to situations. Most of the time we “react” to those that hurt, offend, embarrass, or disappoint us by angrily deflecting the hurt onto others around us or resorting to revenge tactics toward the offender. But anger should be our righteous response to sin.

    If you look at God’s anger throughout scripture, He uses it to “respond” to disobedience, injustice, division, etc (look at Dt. 29:27-28). We have plenty of examples in scripture of godly men who grew angry at some point in their walk. Yes, a lot did not use their anger constructively (Moses, Jonah, Elijah). Not all was negative, however (i.e. Jesus’ response to the temple merchants. True, The Word does not use “angry” to describe Jesus’ emotion, but I urge you find another word that does his actions justice). Anger is a godly reaction to sin. In our fallen condition, we have used anger selfishly, but without angry responses to injustice, cruelty, disobedience then we would become indifferent towards the most awful of actions.

  • @Chris: Your point is well taken, and I agree. Thank you for that clarification.

  • Jerry Schmoyer

    God’s righteous indignation is something we are told to have (Eph 4:26) but that is different than the hateful feelings for another that Jesus says are sin. Jesus says the attitude of nager is sin (Matthew 5:21-22) even before being acted on, just like lust (Matthew 5:27-30), jealousy, greed, etc. If we allow ourselfs to harbor sinful anger and feel that is OK as long as we do not act on it then we will still grieve and quench the Holy Spirit. Being tempted to be angry isn’t sin for temptation is not sin. But once we allow that attitude of anger to come it is sin for usually part of sinful anger is revenge, self-centeredness, unforgiveness, pride and certainly lcak of love.

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