“Pastor accused of hurting man in a road rage incident,” read the headline. My first response was to think, As a believer in Jesus, why wasn’t the pastor more forgiving? Why didn’t he show self-control when provoked? Then the realization hit me that I’m equally capable of such behavior. There have been too many times when I’ve been behind the wheel and my daughter has had to remind me, “Chill, Dad, chill.”

I continued to muse about this act of road rage: Can true believers in Jesus get angry? Is anger sin?

After telling the Ephesian believers not to live as nonbelievers do (Ephesians 4:17), Paul offers some timely advice on anger management. He reveals that anger is not necessarily sin. But it can lead to sin. Since God is the only One who can be angry and never sin, Paul warns us of our propensity to sin when we’re incensed (Ephesians 4:26). If we allow anger to simmer and fester within us, we’re dancing with danger. And when we allow anger to control us, we give Satan an opportunity to bring about a greater evil (Ephesians 4:27). Paul doesn’t differentiate between good or bad anger. He simply states that when we’re angry, it’s vital that we don’t sin.

Cain presents a classic case of anger mismanagement (Genesis 4:3-8). He was angry (at God), but for the wrong reasons (Genesis 4:3-5). God warned Cain to rein in his anger, to subdue it, so he wouldn’t be mastered by it and sin (Genesis 4:7). Cain couldn’t cool down his hot head and ended up murdering his brother (Genesis 4:8).

Knowing the potential evil awaiting to be unleashed when we don’t master our anger, we need the Holy Spirit to keep us from “being angry” and losing our “temper—[leading] to harm” (Psalm 37:8). May we rest in His strength and counsel when anger comes calling!

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Exodus 16:1-36