Updated: Jul 6, 2021
Anger and our Desires. We often believe the delusion that others make us angry. This simply is impossible. No one has the ability to make us sin, but rather the circumstances we face draw out and reveal the desires of our heart that are already present. If we respond in anger it is because anger is already present and rooted in our hearts. We desire power, pleasure, peace, comfort, control, love, respect, things, etc. and when something stands between us and that desire, that person or that thing gets in the way of what we want, anger flows from our heart. We could say it simply, "I act with anger because I am angry in my heart!"
James 4:1 calls these desires passions and identifies these ruling passions (idols) as the source of our angry outbursts and our angry conflicts. God gets right to the issue of our heart, "I am the problem with my anger."
Anger comes from thwarted desires. The desires themselves are not typically the issue, but the desires become a problem when they become ruling desires or demands. This is where anger presents itself. There is something we must have, we deserve to have, we have earned, etc. and if ANYTHING prevents us from getting that desire we will demonstrate our displeasure (anger). We can trace our conflicts back to our heart's desires that have become ruling desires. They have displaced God as the source of our dependence and have become the rulers of our hearts. James gives the appropriate response later in chapter 4: draw near to God (find our dependence upon Him) and humble ourselves (admit that we have given into selfish desires as the answer to life's purpose and satisfaction). We must do the work of discovering what desire has replaced our desire for God.
What desires have taken charge of our heart: love, pleasure, respect, acceptance, approval, friendships, comfort, money, things, recognition, appreciation, etc.