Me and My θυμός Anger

Ephesians 4:31  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice

While researching for my sermon tomorrow night on putting off anger (from Ephesians 4:25-5:2) the Lord reminded me quiet anger is just as deadly as violent anger.

One of the more interesting contrasts in this list is between the words “wrath” (θυμός in the Greek) and “anger” (ὀργή in the Greek).  Wrath gives the idea of an emotional anger (can be translated as passionate anger or heavy breathing)  while anger refers to an explosion of emotion (sometimes involving violence).

Thankfully the Lord has blessed me with patience so I don’t have many ὀργή moments, however, I experience θυμός way too often. 

Monday started really well at my computer tutoring ministry as we warmed up with some new typing games.  But then everything fell apart:

  1. The site we usually use for typing practice was down so all ten students demanded my I fix their computer at the same time
  2. They weren’t interested in doing any of their normal exercises because they were “boring”
  3. Complained that it was too cold
  4. And began a long conversation about their boyfriends and girlfriends

Now, of course, I started throwing people out one they started calling things “boring” so we went from eight students to four after an hour 🙂  Yet it occurred to me much of what I did that afternoon was in anger (θυμός).  It’s true the students deserved consequences like being sent home, but the emotional anger that filled me during that time kept it from becoming a teaching moment.

Later that night a group of six boys gathered in front of my house to demand water and sweetie (candy).  Almost immediately my anger (θυμός) began to flare up.  The truth is I don’t have a problem giving out water to everyone, but sweeties are reserved for children who come for Church or a Bible Study.  Thankfully the Lord helped me calm my anger and we ended up having a calm conversation why I can’t give everybody sweeties.

The problem with the emotional anger of θυμός is if we aren’t careful it can grow into the volcanic eruption of ὀργή.  But even if it doesn’t those emotions can create bitterness, clamor (verbal outburst of anger), and evil speech (gossip).  Not to mention the affect it has on our relationship with God.  The greatest drawback of θυμός though is we eventually come to be known by it.

There will always be people who know what buttons to push to make me angry (like demanding sweeties instead of asking politely) and take a certain joy in pushing my buttons.  And the more I respond with emotional anger the more it becomes like a game (“let’s see how fast we can make Mr. John mad”).  Having children who love pushing my buttons is indeed frustrating, but it also gives me the opportunity to offer correction in grace instead of emotional anger.