Anger is a flame.
Like a match dropped into gasoline, it catches fire suddenly, often without warning, but never without prior conditions that enabled the blaze. It is a reaction, never an initiation. It comes from a sense that something is wrong with the world that affects me in a personal and negative way.
I may be angry at a wound from another person’s action or inaction. I may be angry about someone’s response or lack of response to something I did that I hoped or expected would be received a different way. This is unrighteous anger, and as James puts it, “Man’s anger does not produce the righteous life God desires.” (James 1:20)
I may be angry at the things God is angry about: the presence of sin in my life or the lives of those I love, or the brokenness of the world. This is righteous anger, yet most of us do not experience it because either we do not see these things through the eyes of Christ, or we do not see ourselves as personally connected.
Freedom from unrighteous anger comes from seeing ourselves as God sees us and realizing that we are both undeserving of anything but judgement, AND unbelievably loved in Christ. We are angered when we do not get the good things we think we deserve, but set free when we realize and accept that we do not deserve them at all. With such understanding, we also will hate sin and brokenness in the world. Then at last we will be free to be angry at the things God is angry about, and be motivated to do something about them, empowered by the fire of God and strengthened by His love.