Grief Not Allowed

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. – John 16:20


In our culture, it seems more acceptable for us to be angry than sad. Consequently, many of us stumble through life without understanding our feelings, completely out of touch with our emotions. We may be deeply grieved by a number of circumstances, but we don’t feel safe acknowledging our sadness. It’s socially “okay” for them to vent their anger, but not to explore and discuss the deep hurt beneath it.

When you feel sad, anger seems like a safe retreat. It causes your adrenaline to rush. It commands attention and demands respect. It allows you to stay in control, and it keeps uncomfortable feelings and situations at a safe distance. However your failure to grieve can actually poison you.

The Bible offers no precedent for us to suppress our grief. The Old Testament depicts many people showing real grief. The men of Israel would rip their clothes, sprinkle themselves with ashes, wear black armbands, and spend time in mourning. They would wail before the Lord without feeling shame.

That experience allowed them to express their emotions and then move on without the baggage of repressed feelings. When we don’t grieve, we stuff our disappointments and sadness, and compensate for them with other less-threatening emotions, and at the top of the list is anger. But Scripture gives you liberty to grieve, so when you need to, openly grieve!

– Steve Arterburn

To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness. – Erich Fromm

Second-Day Anger

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. – Ephesians 4:26-27


By definition, anger is a temporary emotional arousal that occurs, is handled, and recedes in a matter of minutes, or at most, a few hours. Anger that’s allowed to fester and seethe for days, weeks, months, or years is very unhealthy.

Author and pastor, Calvin Miller calls anger held overnight “second-day anger.” He writes, “This tendency to nurse our anger overnight always builds to a grudge, which eats at the soul and finally rots it with cynicism. Over time, a grudge becomes poisonous bitterness.”

This type of anger accrues increased explosiveness the way an unpaid loan accrues interest. What remains until tomorrow is only bigger, worse that it was yesterday, and tougher to pay down.

There are several reasons we often opt for second-day anger. We think remaining angry when we feel violated helps us maintain a sense of control over the situation. We sometimes like to use our anger like a club to punish the person we feel is responsible for it. But many times we’re simply too proud and or lazy to identify and address it. Be committed to dealing with today’s anger today.

– Steve Arterburn

Anger is one letter short of danger. – Unknown

Self-Centered Anger

Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. – Titus 1:7


A good deal of human anger springs from selfishness. A man may get angry with his father for not including him in the business; with his wife for not serving the dinner he expected; with his daughter for telephoning in at midnight for a ride home from a party; or with his son for not weeding the garden when he wanted it done.

In the book entitled, Caring Enough to Confront, David Augsburger describes this self-centered anger as “a demand that also demands others meet your demands.” Simply put, self-centered anger erupts when you don’t get what you want, when you want it.

Self-centered anger isn’t what Jesus expressed. He didn’t get angry when someone snubbed Him, but he did when someone cast a slur on His Father or treated others unjustly. He wasn’t ticked at the money-changers for offending Him but for desecrating His Father’s house and disrupting the worship of His people. Jesus never got angry at the wrongs done to Him—including the ultimate wrong—His crucifixion. Instead, He forgave.

We all struggle with self-centered anger. And when we compare ourselves to Jesus, we must learn to call this type of anger what it is: sin. (Remember though, not all anger is sin.) Ask God for forgiveness and ask Him to help you to practice the habit of examining your motives when you become angry so that you can discern self-centeredness from God-centeredness.

– Steve Arterburn

Anger is a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind. – Robert G. Ingersoll

Understanding Anger

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?  You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. – Micah 7:18


Is it wrong for you to be angry?  In other words, is anger a strictly negative emotion, and always an expression of sin?  Definitely not! Anger is a natural human emotion; a facet of the warning system God has built into our bodies to alert us of problems and prompt us to positive, problem-solving actions.

Furthermore, anger isn’t necessarily an expression of sin.  Jesus, the sinless Son of God, and the perfect man, expressed anger at several points in His ministry.  Jesus’ anger is perhaps most clearly seen when He drove the money-changers out of the Temple as seen in Matthew 21 and Mark 11.

It’s usually not our anger that gets us in trouble.  It’s what we do with our anger—where and how we direct it that we so often regret.  Remember, the Bible doesn’t say, “Don’t get angry.”  But it does say, “Be slow to anger.”

I challenge you, though, to consider what anger in your life is natural and healthy, which is sinful and destructive, and how best to direct your anger.

– Steve Arterburn

Life is 10% what you make it, and 90% how you take it. – Irving Berlin

Look Up and Move On

All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. – Ephesians 4:31-32


The world holds few if any rewards for those who remain angrily focused upon the past. Still, the act of forgiveness is difficult for all but the most saintly men and women. Are you mired in the quicksand of bitterness or regret? If so, you are not only disobeying God’s Word; you are also wasting your time.

Being frail, fallible, imperfect human beings, most of us are quick to anger, quick to blame, slow to forgive, and even slower to forget. Yet as Christians, we are commanded to forgive others, just as we, too, have been forgiven.

If there exists even one person—alive or dead—against whom you hold bitter feelings, it’s time to forgive. Or, if you are embittered against yourself for some past mistake or shortcoming, it’s finally time to forgive yourself and move on. Hatred, bitterness, and regret are not part of God’s plan for your life. Forgiveness is.

– Steve Arterburn

Acrid bitterness inevitably seeps into the lives of people who harbor grudges and suppress anger, and bitterness is always a poison. – Lee Strobel

Anger breeds remorse in the heart, discord in the home, bitterness in the community, and confusion in the state. – Billy Graham

Bitterness is the trap that snares the hunter. – Max Lucado

Heavenly Father, free me from anger and bitterness. When I am angry, I cannot feel the peace that You intend for my life. When I am bitter, I cannot sense Your presence. Keep me mindful that forgiveness is Your commandment. Let me turn away from bitterness and instead claim the spiritual abundance that You offer through the gift of Your Son. Amen

Man vs. Lawnmower

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. – Ephesians 4:26-27

Man vs. Lawnmower

Cliff was a kind and mild-mannered man until one fateful summer day.

He set the controls of his year-old lawn mower on ‘START,’ and pulled the cord. Nothing. He pulled several more times. Still nothing. Finally, after countless attempts, the mower roared to life. Frustrated but relieved, Cliff adjusted the throttle and prepared to cut. But before he could take a step, the mower died again. After several more futile attempts, Cliff straightened up, turned, and walked into the house.

Moments later Cliff calmly returned to the mower, slid several shells into his rifle, took aim, and proceeded to riddle the machine with bullets.

His wife who’d witnessed the entire affair from the kitchen window stood amazed and frightened at the rage lurking beneath Cliff’s quiet, confident exterior.

Perhaps you can relate to Cliff’s anger. But I hope you don’t relate to how he dealt with it. It’s o.k. to have anger and even express it. It’s the how and the when we have to work on.

– Steve Arterburn

Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame. – Benjamin Franklin

Relinquishing Debts Owed Us

Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. – Luke 6:37

Relinquishing Debts Owed Us

Do you tend to keep a mental list of the wrongs that have been done against you . . . an accounting of what you think others owe you? You may feel they owe you an apology, a favor, a sum of money, or something else. If every time you’re hurt, you’re mentally adding to the ledger of debt that others owe you, I want to help you see how and why to let go and erase that ledger of debt.

Jesus told this story to address what I’m talking about:  “A king decided to bring his accounts up to date . . . In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.” The man begged for forgiveness. “Then the king was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.” This was reported to the king. “Then the king called in the man he’d forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant. I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’(Matthew 18:23-35)

When you look at the enormous moral debt God has forgiven you and the price Jesus paid for us to be forgiven, you should be compelled to forgive others. Forgiveness will free you from the torture of festering resentment. You can’t change what others have done to you, but you can write off their debts by handing the accounting process over to God.

– Steve Arterburn

Forgiveness is the economy of the heart . . . forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.” – Hannah More

Hostility And Aggression

Turn from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. – Psalm 34:14

Hostility And Aggression

What’s the difference between anger, hostility, and aggression? When a man is angry with someone, he experiences a momentary feeling of displeasure toward that person. Ideally the anger alerts him to a problem that he moves to resolve immediately. Anger handled in this way is well within bounds. Hostility is unresolved anger that becomes a desire to hurt, punish, or gain vengeance; and aggression is hostility escalated into action. Deal with your anger before it escalates to hostility or aggression.

Domestic violence has become a widespread problem largely because deep-seated anger has fermented into hostility and spilled over into aggression. David Augsburger writes, “Explosive anger is powerless to effect change in relationships. It dissipates needed energies, stimulates increased negative feelings, irritates the other persons in the transaction and offers nothing but momentary discharge. Vented anger may ventilate feelings and provide instant though temporary release for tortured emotions, but it does little for relationships.”

Identify and address that which produces your anger. If the other person involved makes that impossible, exhibit self-control and remove yourself from the situation. Hostility and aggression only compound problems!

– Steve Arterburn

Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.” – Cherie Carter-Scott (1949– )

Free-Floating Anger

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control;  to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness. – 2 Peter 1:5–6

Free-Floating Anger

People who are angry without knowing why express their anger in unhealthy and destructive ways. This type of anger is called free-floating anger, because there’s not an obvious cause. This leaves the angry person unable to constructively express his or her anger because he or she can’t identify its cause, and for this reason it’s unpredictable. Neither the angry person nor his loved ones are quite sure why or what sets him off. They only know that sooner or later it’s going to flash. Author Karl Bednarik says this about free-floating anger:

This is inarticulate anger because it does not even know what it wants, and when it reaches the point of action, the action directs itself at random targets, comes to light in mysterious acts of violence, outbursts of blind rage, incoherent criticism, aimless resentment, dreary grumbling, or else in apathetic, helpless, sulky resignation… And this explosion usually—in fact, nearly always—involves innocent people.

This isn’t the anger seen in Jesus as He cleared the Temple. That anger rose from a specific stimulus and its point of action resulted in a strong but appropriate response.

If you struggle with free-floating anger you must identify its source in order to heal. Let your pastor or a professional counselor help you.

Steve Arterburn

Temper is the one thing you can’t get rid of by losing it. ” – Jack Nicholson (1937– )

Give Up Anger; Get Back Forgiveness

In part four of my series on how to live an exceptional life, I’m talking about how anger can cripple our ability to forgive. How can we learn to release anger and allow ourselves the freedom on forgiveness? Click here for more.


Get more from