Have you ever got angry and then gotten upset with yourself for getting mad — because you felt you shouldn’t? Or found yourself fearful about something — and then scolded yourself for being cowardly? Or experienced sexual desire — and then berated yourself for feeling the emotion?
I am sure we all have experienced anger, fear, desire—and several other emotions—and felt guilty about feeling many of them. However, we need to realize that all our feelings are God-given and, by definition, good. If we think about it, we will see why.
If we didn’t feel anger, we would have no motivation to act against injustice or corruption or other wicked things in the world. If we didn’t feel fear, we would think nothing of climbing tall trees and risk falling to our deaths. If we didn’t feel sexual desire, we wouldn’t procreate. We need these emotions to survive, to grow, to face life. Therefore, emotions (or feelings) are not bad in themselves. Let us understand this and accept it as natural, so we can get rid of the guilt that plagues us.
“So, is it ok to get angry?” you ask. Yes, but we have to be careful how we deal with it. The apostle Paul advised: “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26), implying we would get angry, but to be careful how we expressed it. When anger stems from pride or ego, it is easy to let it explode into a destructive rage as it so often does. However, even righteous anger—that is, anger against the things that make God angry—can lead us to do wicked things. So, how do we express anger properly?
The apostle James has some advice: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). He’s advising us to *listen* to what is being said instead of reacting, and process everything *slowly* because rushing into a response may be dangerous. “The Lord is slow to anger,” and although Jesus did have occasional outbursts, the fact that he is “compassionate and gracious, abounding in love” (Psalms 103:8) ensured his anger didn’t lead him into sinful actions. If we slow down our responses and take some time to think and pray about how we should deal with our anger, we would have a better chance of ensuring that we do not sin in our anger.
The same principle holds good for all the other emotions we feel. Feelings are not sinful, so shed the guilt you feel and lighten some of the load on your shoulders.