I’m told people get angry (or frustrated) an average of eleven times a day. Probably good to deal with it. Here’s what Paul says (Eph. 4:26,27):
1. “BE ANGRY.”
It’s a God-given emotion, and there are some things worth getting angry about. The inability to get angry limits us from responding properly to injustice.
Florence Nightingale was angry for inadequate hospital care. William Carey was angered by the inhumane slave trade in Africa. Positive anger makes civil wrongs into civil rights.
2. “…AND DO NOT SIN.”
Ah—that’s the rub. If God gets angry, it’s godly. Problem—it often leads to sin. Anger is an emotion, a response to a threat to our lives, our character, our opinions, our property. What we do with it determines whether we sin.
Anger turned out leads to aggression, like with Cain. God commanded him to put his desires under control. He chose instead to put his brother out of commission. Anger turned in leads to depression. Jonah was depressed because God didn’t do things his way, the passive-aggressive kind who says, ” I’m not angry, just hurt.” We are warned that “the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).
Clench your fist. That is often the posture of angry people. And even if the fist is not clenched, the heart is. James wrote, “Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness…” (Js. l:l9,2l).
3. “DO NOT LET THE SUN GO DOWN ON YOUR ANGER.”
In other words, deal with it. Anger neglected leads to bitterness. One can have anger without sinning but not bitterness, anger gone to seed. We are not responsible for what people do to us—we are responsible for our responses.
One way to deal with our anger is to forgive. Unforgiveness can settle under our skin like a tumor and remain undetected.
Forgiveness does not mean…
.we overlook the offense
.we lift responsibility from the erring party
Forgiveness means that we release the other to the justice and mercy of the Lord. Our option is to hold onto anger—and play God.
4. “AND GIVE NO OPPORTUNITY TO THE DEVIL.”
When my car overheated, I thought I could make it over the top of a hill. $488 later with a blown head gasket said, “Let the engine cool.”
Damage to metal is one thing; damage to people is more costly. Anger not discharged leads to hostility, a fire that burns within. When we say, “That really burns me,” we are close to the truth. Even if anger is justified, it still ruins the engine.
Perhaps this prayer echoes your heart: “Dear Father, I am angry. I need to let it go and forgive. I have closed my heart off to your love. Forgive my wrong responses. Teach me to overcome evil with good. Through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.”