Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27, ESV.
As we continue to look into Paul’s specific applications of the call to put on Christ and walk in the Spirit, we come to the issue of anger. With our news and social media sites overflowing with expressions of anger, there can be little doubt as to the relevance of this topic for us as Christians!
Paul opens with a reference to Psalm 4:4. Noting this is important as we try to understand why Paul would ever say, “Be angry.” After all, he is the same apostle who is about to write, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (4:31). How can he say in the same paragraph to be angry but get rid of all anger? The solution to this puzzle is in Psalm 4. The Hebrew word David uses for anger in that Psalm could also be translated as “agitated.” Some things in our lives will evoke strong emotional responses; one of them is anger. Christians are not called to be stoics.
The issue is not whether anything ever gets your ire up; it is whether or not you will let your emotions rule you and lead you into sin. This can happen in a couple of ways. The first is when you let your anger take control and hang around. The emotional response of anger is one thing, clinging to angry thoughts is another. When I was a child, my father enforced this rule quite literally. We worked through things before he left my room and turned out the lights at night. I remain grateful for that lesson! The second way our angry emotions become sinful is related to the first. When we cling to anger, we not only let it rule us, we let its master use us for his evil schemes. The devil loves division and discord. If you let anger control you, he can use you to destroy your family or your church.
Are you an angry person? It is time for that to change. It is time to repent, repair the damage your anger has done to others, and, trusting the God who will one day right all wrongs, live in peace. Seek help if you need it. I will be praying for you as you fight this common foe.