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Throwing a fit.


Anger is a complex human emotion. It's puzzling because anger has the spark to propel us through so many layers, from simple vexation to explosive rage. Chase Mr. Roget's ideas around to meet the anger family, from Ms. Miff to Mr. Fury, and dozens of kin in between. Most of us are on a first-name basis with them because they're such frequent visitors. We know the problem solving savvy of that milder frustration or aggravation. Just the same, we're up close and personal with those angry bursts that send us over the edge. I mean, who hasn't kicked a car door or slapped the laptop? Get real. We humans know all of the dimensions of this emotion and understand at least the many ways anger challenges us and rocks our lives.


It's a big Bible topic, anger. This truth reminds us that human nature remains constant in a world of exponential change. This human foible is mentioned in every Bible book from Genesis to Revelation. Interestingly, two Greek terms are primary when thinking about anger in the New Testament.


ὀργή (orgay)

Well yes, this term defines passion, even sexual passion in the New Testament. Regarding anger, orgay usually expresses a swelling of passion, the gradual building of anger over time. It is seldom used of sudden explosions of anger and often portrays building wrath. It is often used in Revelation to reference the wrath of God. Mark used this word to describe Jesus' anger at the Pharisees---


And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart.

Mark 3: 5, ESV


θυμός (thumos)

This concept of anger is basically explosive and sudden, like throwing a fit. You know, the kid in the grocery store or the neighbor having prayer meeting with this lawnmower. It is also translated as passion and wrath but usually in a more instant experience. The Apostle Paul, writing to the church at Galatia warned them about the many works of the flesh, those emotions and actions contrary to the work of the Spirit in a human life. He warned them about fits of anger. This anger erupts in a flash. It is also translated as passion and wrath but usually in a more instant experience.


Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry,

sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy,

drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that

those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5: 19-212, ESV


This blowup of anger, the outburst that is unexpected and sudden, is a work not of the new self in Christ but of the old self and the human nature. It is the anger that is destructive and dangerous, a repeated detonation of anger with little regard for problem solving or reparation. Expression is the deal, impulsive and circumstantial.


And, that is the anger that is so dangerously expressed in our times by people on every side of life realities. It's what happens when anger is uncontrolled and loosed by the harsh conditions that often define us. It's when people personally vent their anger on the rest of the world around them. We humans are quick to criticize others expressing these fits of anger. Even more, our response is often more quick tempered anger, the stuff of evening the score, gaining a little payback, or registering rebuttal to a position that is different from our own. Fits of anger may be our most critical reactions to the wrath so visible in other elements of our culture.


This kind of anger, as a product of our dark side is portrayed as evil, regardless of who expresses them. And, the bible deals with our retributive expressions of anger as well. The Apostle Paul wrote about this evil on several occasions---


See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another

and to everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5: 15, ESV


Responding to fits of anger with more fits of anger isn't the deal. This Christian worldview seeks the good of the people around us, not more fits of anger. We should be disciplined to control our anger. Throwing fits isn't the way to express it.


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