A Final Word on Anger from Chrysostom
“He that is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matt. 5:22); so does our Lord speak. Thus He has not altogether taken the thing away; first because it is not possible, being a man to be freed from passions. We may indeed get dominion over them, but to be altogether without them is out of the question. Next, because this passion is even useful, if we know how to use it at the suitable time. See, for instance, what great good was wrought by the anger of Paul which he exercised against the Corinthians, on that well known occasion (see I Corinthians Chapter 5); and how it delivered them from a grievous pest. In the same manner he recovered the people of Galatia, who had slipped aside, and others also besides these.
What then is the proper time for anger? When we are not avenging ourselves, but checking others in their lawless freaks, or forcing them to attend in their negligence. And what is the unsuitable time? When we do so as avenging ourselves, which Paul also forbidding said, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath.” (Rom. 12:19) Also when we are contending for riches: yes, for this he has also taken away when he says, “Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” (I Cor. 6:7) For just as the taking of vengeance is superfluous, so the other type is necessary and profitable. But most men do the contrary; they become like wild beasts when they are injured. But they are remiss and cowardly when they see despite done to another or another breaking the laws of God, both which are the opposite of the laws of the Gospel.
Being angry then is not transgression, but being so out of place. For this cause the prophet has also said, “Be ye angry and sin not.” (Ps. 4:5) And this is how anger is meant to be: however provoked, not to forsake gentleness, and however at rest and quiet, to be on the alert against evil thoughts. To acknowledge the friend, and not for any beating to forsake him, and for all his caressing, to fly at the intruder. Anger must be under control and not overthrow the reasoning of the mind. Such good order may we all attain through the grace and love towards mankind of our Lord Jesus Christ to Whom be glory together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.