Anger sermon ideas

Culpable anger is vengeful or destructive passion, often barely controlled, that flames up against a person or thing. It is a vice that can also manifest as a smoldering irritability. Culpable anger is distinct from righteous indignation, which is anger at injustice, cruelty, or other forms of wrongdoing. Sermons about anger can focus on the Bible's warnings against anger, while drawing the distinction between culpable anger and righteous anger.  

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What does the Bible say about anger?

The Bible passages below can be used in sermons or pastoral care dealing with anger. 

Examples of unrighteous anger

Examples of righteous anger

Warnings against anger

  • Psalm 37:8, Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath
  • Proverbs 14:29, one who has a quick tempter displays folly
  • Proverbs 15:18, those who are hot-tempered stir up conflict
  • Proverbs 30:33, stirring up anger produces strife
  • Matthew 5:22, Jesus speaks about judgment for those who are angry with a brother or sister
  • Luke 9:54-55, James and John want to call down fire from heaven on people who won't listen to Jesus, but Jesus rebukes them
  • Ephesians 4:26, if you are angry, do not sin; don't let the sun go down on your anger
  • James 1:20, be quick to listen and slow to get angry, for anger doesn't produce God's righteousness

Vice lists

In the New Testament's vice lists, anger shows up next door to bitterness, rage, brawling, slander, and malice. In both Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3, anger is part of the "old self" that must die or be put off. The "new self" that replaces it will then be full of kindness and compassion, which are components of the recovered image of God in regenerated human beings. Anger appears in vice lists in the following passages: 

Sermon ideas about anger

In sermons about anger, we can point out that culpable anger is wholly distinct from righteous indignation, which is anger at injustice, cruelty, or other forms of wrongdoing. This is the anger of God, which numerous biblical writers say God can possess, but is slow to possess. This is also the form of anger that a righteous person lets go of in the process of forgiving someone who has hurt him or her. 

What is anger not

Anger is not isolated vexation or a momentary annoyance. In addition, anger is not frustration, which is a common occurrence in ordinary life (a zipper gets stuck, an on-ramp closes). Being occasionally frustrated or blocked is an expectable happenstance. Anger is an inappropriate reaction to it. 

Is anger controllable?

As the ancient Greeks already knew, people are born with different "humors" or temperaments. Some are born sunny-side up. Some are born hot-tempered and irritable. C. S. Lewis observed that this difference in raw material makes a moral difference. People who are born "hot" may struggle with their temper their whole life. So on a day in which they succeed in being merely civil, they make news in heaven.  

Whatever a person's temperament, biblical writers assume that anger is, at least in part, controllable. Otherwise, the requirement to forgive those who harm us would be unfulfillable. 

Angry culture 

Sermons about anger can point out how countercultural the Bible's call to compassion, self-control, and forgiveness is. Self-control is a challenge to Christians in any culture in which anger is freely stoked and indulged. Angry sports, angry politics, angry talk shows, vengeful movies, music with an attitude—all these things make anger look normal. It is common. But in a Christian worldview, anger is never normal. In fact, it is a deadly sin because of all the strife, sorrow, and pain it inevitably kindles. Human beings have by now silted history full with the debris of all their antagonisms. This is a prime reason for the biblical hope of shalom. 

Excerpts about anger

 The following are sample excerpts from Zeteosearch sermon resources about anger: 

"Why do some people fail to get angry about things that should make them mad?" Discussion Questions by Robert B. Kruschwitz from the Christian Reflection Project

"Anger builds up like rust, appears in the most unexpected corners of our hearts and is never quite done away with." Scripture Meditation by Euan Marley from Torch

Worship ideas about anger 

Following are sample excerpts from Zeteosearch worship resources about anger: 

"May our faithful angers become fuel for justice in our fractured world and for the mending of broken relations in our communities. For God's sake—and ours. Amen." Prayer by Victoria Emily Jones from Art & Theology