“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27)
Dealing With Anger
Emotions are a part of the human character. God created man to be an emotional creature with the knowledge of right and wrong. The challenge has always been learning how to control the emotions so that righteousness will be seen instead of the character of unrighteousness. One of the most common emotions that all men battle with is the problem of anger. Someone said the word ‘anger’ is one letter away from the word ‘danger’ and how true this will be when not kept in check. Cain became angry with his brother Abel and killed him. Moses lost his inheritance into the promised land when he let his anger get the best of him. When the Lord struck Uzza for touching the ark, David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzza. Jeremiah spoke of the fierce anger of the Lord against His own people. Jesus was angered by the hypocrisy of the Jews who denied He was the Son of God. The sin is not in the anger but what anger is allowed to do. Paul admonishes the people of God to know the power of influence unchecked anger will bring upon the soul. It is possible to be angry and not sin but that takes great care in keeping the fuel of anger within righteous bounds and not losing control. Anger should not fester or be allowed to continue. The admonition to not let the sun go down on wrath is the problem with anger. If allowed to continue, fueling up the reserves of increased emotion within the heart, Satan enters in and begins to make the heart sin with hatred. Controlled anger can be used in righteousness. Uncontrolled anger leads to unrighteousness.
The challenge of anger is not to ignore it but to learn how to control it. Paul quotes the psalmist David when he writes, “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. How long, O you sons of men, will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood? But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the Lord will hear when I call to Him. Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, ‘Who will show us any good?’ Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4) The apostle uses a very well-known psalm to reference his argument to refrain from unbridled anger. His solution is to appeal to the pattern given by David in the psalm. Learning to control anger begins with the God of righteousness. Anger is mitigated because of a desire to please the Father. The people of God are set apart to be holy and godly examples of truth. Allowing anger to go unchecked does not show others the grace of the Lord. It is impossible to show Christ as Savior with the same mouth spewing forth fiery anger. Prayers can be hindered if anger is not controlled.
How can one be angry and not sin? First it comes from meditation to control anger. Walking away from a situation for the purpose of collecting the emotional thoughts of anger is required to control the unruly beast. David said to meditate within the heart on a bed and be still. The bed may not be handy but a closet, stairwell, front yard, back forty acres and a long walk in the park will soothe the beast swelling within. Do not let anger lose control or you are in control of a losing battle. When anger rears its head have a talk with God – FIRST. David said to offer the sacrifices of righteousness. The only way to be angry and not sin is to allow the emotion to be covered in the righteousness of the Lord God. Jesus was angry but He did not sin. Paul was not suggesting an impossible task but a necessary character of the growing Christian. Of all people in the world – Christian’s should not be known as angry people. My brethren these things ought not so to be among the family of God. What is the final advice from David? Trust in the Lord. Be angry and do not sin because trusting the Lord to take care of the matter will remove the sinful attitude that will happen if left unguarded. Formulate the emotion of anger under the umbrella of God’s will, His way, the truth and never allow the unbridled anger of sin destroy the character.
A final thought. David says if you want gladness in your heart and to find the joy of peace and pleasant sleep – be angry and do not sin. Let the Lord take the burden. Do not let the sun go down on unresolved issues that will only be harder in the morning. What you carry from day to day will become a burden you will not be able to bear. Your marriage will suffer, relationships will be strained and your character will implode into a selfish pride of arrogance. Do not give place to allow Satan to do that. Anger can be controlled when God is the center of your life. Be angry but don’t you let sin enter the door. In the philosophical wisdom of the deputy from Mayberry, USA: nip it in the bud.