Be Angry vs Sin not
“Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26).
The “Be angry” part of this verse is easy to achieve. After having some work done at my house recently and being charged what I thought was an outrageous amount– much more than the initial quote, I felt myself dealing with anger. The peace that lay within me was shattered, the adrenalin got to flowing, and my mind got to going. The next thing I knew, a full-blown case of anger had arrived. Now I had to work on the second part of our verse, the part that says to sin not. The getting angry part of our verse was easy, the don’t sin part was not to be as easily dealt with, and I haven’t even started to worry about the “don’t hold on to it” part.
What else does the Bible say about anger? Psalm 145:8 and Nehemiah 9:17 both say that God is “slow to anger.” Jesus said that anyone who gets angry at his brother is liable for judgement. (Matt 5:22). In Col 3:8 Paul says that we should put anger away, and Proverbs 16:32 says that if we are slow to anger it is a good thing. The Bible is full of man dealing with anger and most of it is not good.
Once anger arrives it must be fed. I fed my anger words like “gouged,” “taken advantage of,” and “exploited.” Each time I used one of these words to feed my anger, it got bigger. To keep it from growing I decided to starve it by not feeding it. This is sort of like holding your breath underwater. I could only do it for so long. The inflaming words of anger must be replaced. I then in faith went to the Lord in prayer, bathing my soul in the love and encouragement of God’s Word. John 16:33 reminded me that trouble was a part of being in this world, but that He had overcome it. I was reminded of Jesus on the cross in more pain that I can imagine saying, “Father forgive them.” My God forgave me so much. Who am I not to forgive this little thing that was done to me?
Had I not allowed God to put out the fire that anger’s inflaming words was causing, the anger could have grown into rage. Then my self-righteous anger would have said, “Vengeance is mine.” However, Deuteronomy 32:35 says that vengeance belongs only to God. This could have not ended well, but the Lord drew me back to Him. He restored His peace in me. The battle with anger is not over. Anger will raise its ugly head again, but My Lord will never leave me, and I am always His.
We can be angry and sin not as our verse says, but the warning in this verse and throughout the Bible is that anger often will lead to sin which will destroy our relationship with God, our families, friends, colleagues, and others. It has caused so much misery, sadness, hurt and loss that it must be treated with all the respect you would give to a very volatile explosive. Be slow to anger. The journey from anger to sin is just too short.
Entire libraries have been written on the topic of anger, so this is by no means exhaustive. It is just what I learned dealing with it one day at my home.