Is unrelenting anger toward someone like murder? How do we normally react when we are angry at someone over a long period of time? After the initial (probable) burst of angry words, we tend to give that person the cold shoulder, the silent treatment. If that continues, what are we really saying in our hearts—possibly that we wish they were dead. Even if we don’t wish that, isn't that what our conduct is treating them as—as if they were non-existent? We've effectively “murdered” them in our heart and mind.
That idea was the main thrust of a recent lecture I heard. It really drove home how unchristian and ungodly such conduct is. In contrast to our imperfect anger, the example our heavenly Father sets for us is one of long-suffering. He is such a merciful God, that the point is driven home three times in scripture. (Ps.86:15; Ps.103:8; Ps.145:8)
Why is continued anger such a danger for us? Psalm 37:8 answers: “Let anger alone and leave rage; Do not show yourself heated up only to do evil.” Yes, evil in the form of physical cruelty can result. (Prov.14:17; Prov.29:22)
So what advice does God’s word give us? It says: “The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger, and it is beauty on his part to pass over transgression.” Prov.19:11 How do we develop such insight? By contemplating not only how God has been patient with us but also how God feels about the way we treat others. (Matthew 6:15; Matthew 18:23-33; Eph.4:31,32) Yes, if we want to be forgiven by God, we need to be forgiving to others. (When we consider that the “prison” God will throw unforgiving ones into is “death,” that should be even more motivation to change our ways.) Yes, instead of allowing anger to consume us, we need to focus our attention on more productive things. (Galatians 5:22,23)