The Cost of Anger

Not only does the Bible contain many infallible proofs that testify to its divine inspiration, but it also offers many practical commands that are of benefit to the general health and well-being of every human being. One of those practical commands is found in James 1:19-20: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

Beginning with the vicious murderer Cain, throughout the Bible we see the negative effects of human anger. The book of Proverbs is filled to overflowing with precautionary remarks about controlling anger, and avoiding habitually angry men. Interestingly, the modern medical profession has thrown its two cents into the anger discussions. In their thought-provoking book titled None of These Diseases, medical doctors S.I. McMillen and David E. Stern brought to light the fact—well known in the medical community—that habitual anger not only is destructive, but also has the potential to kill. On page 205 of the book, they quoted doctors Redford Williams and Virginia Williams: “Getting [habitually] angry is like taking a small dose of some slow-acting poison-arsenic, for example, every day of your life.” Later in the chapter titled “Danger—Anger,” McMillen and Stern cited a study carried out in 1981 on the hostility level of 255 medical students. Of those who tested in the high-hostility level, 13 percent died by middle age. Of those in the low-hostility level, only 2 percent died.

Of course, anger in and of itself, in certain proportions, is not necessarily destructive. Even Jesus, on occasion, was angry (Mark 3:5). However, the unchecked attitude of “venting one’s feelings of anger” does not produce the righteousness of God. Instead, it leads only to destructive, sinful behavior that negatively affects the body and soul. Truly, the Proverbs writer expressed it eloquently when he wrote: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (16:32).


McMillen, S.I. and David Stern (2000), None of These Diseases (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell), third edition.


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