Many people struggle with a quick or fiery temper. Although society often encourages people to express themselves and not hold back, God’s Word teaches that giving in to one’s temper is a sin.
The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of controlling one’s temper. It calls a person who easily loses his temper a “fool” (Proverbs 29:11; Ecclesiastes 7:9) and describes someone who cannot control himself as a “city whose walls are broken down” (Proverbs 25:28). A person with a hot temper is often at odds with those around him, becoming easily offended and lashing out in anger for even the smallest slight (Proverbs 15:18a). As children of God, we are called to love others (John 13:35; Ephesians 4:2, 31-32) and to be at peace (James 1:19; Proverbs 19:11; James 3:17-18). “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). A person who maintains a calm, even temper is quicker to forgive and better able to live peaceably with others (Proverbs 15:1, 8b; 12:16; 19:11).
With the Holy Spirit in our lives, we will show the fruit of His work inside us. Some of the fruits of the Spirit are peace, patience, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23)—these are essential to controlling the tendency to lose our temper. In fact, the Greek word translated “patience” (“longsuffering” in the KJV) carries the idea of “long-burning,” as in having a long fuse. As we grow in Christ, we should continue to deal appropriately with anger (no short fuses!) and react with love and patience (Colossians 3:8).
We may often feel justified in losing our temper, particularly when someone has hurt or offended us. But we are instructed to forgive (Matthew 5:44; 6:12; 18:21–22), not yield to anger or seek vengeance. It is ultimately God’s prerogative to punish evildoers (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19). For an example of this forgiveness, we need only look to Jesus. When He was hanging on the cross, crucified for sins He did not commit, He did not release His wrath on the perpetrators. Instead, He asked God the Father to forgive them (Luke 23:34).
It’s important to note that anger is a valid emotion and is not always sinful. God allows for “righteous anger,” which is anger with the proper focus, the proper motivation, the proper control, the proper duration, and the proper result. Our problem is that our temper is often motivated by selfishness and directed toward other people instead of toward sin. That’s why God tells us to “let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) . . . be banished from you” (Ephesians 4:31, AMP). With God’s help, we can keep our temper in check.