And "don't sin by letting anger control you." Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry. – Ephesians 4:26 (NLT)
Almost every day for the past two months, I’ve woken up with a headache. The intensity has ranged anywhere from mild - where I could press my fingers into my temple and back of my head to make it go away within about 10 minutes – to a full-blown migraine that kept me in agonizing pain for several hours, even with medication.
After a while, pain gets old. I feel myself getting grumpier. Irritable. Angry. I want to go back to the way things used to be, when I awoke pain-free and enjoyed the early morning hours. When my days began with a smile, rather than a wince.
In the same way chronic pain, exacerbated by rheumatoid arthritis “flares,” can grate on my nerves, so hardships of other kinds can trigger the same type of emotional flare-ups in all of us. Financial uncertainty. Broken relationships. Unemployment. Rising healthcare costs. Political change. Social injustice. Crime. Terror Attacks. War. These are just a few of the issues facing the world today that are creating not just fear, but anger.
We want to go back to the way things used to be, when we awoke care-free and looking forward to the day ahead. When we weren’t on edge, waiting for the next shoe to drop. When we weren’t so weary from what seems like an endless struggle.
There is no way to go backwards in time, however; only forward. Nor can we get around the issues we are facing; we must work through them.
God never tells us not to feel anger. He tells us to “be angry and yet do not sin.” What does that mean for us? How does anger lead to sin, and how do we avoid it? The answer lies in one tiny verse, found in Ephesians 4.
The New Living Translation of the Bible translates “be angry and yet do not sin” as “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” The key is in that one little word: control.
Every day, we have a choice. We can let our emotions control us, or we can be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
When I am controlled by anger, my attitudes and actions will be in direct conflict with those evident when my life is controlled by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5 points out that a Spirit-controlled life results in good fruit such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.
I don’t know about you, but when I am consumed by anger about anything, it is hard to find much joy or peace. My actions don’t end up being very loving, either. My grumpiness turns into impatience, and what comes out of my mouth isn’t usually very kind. While on a “good” day, I might be quite humble and self-controlled, when I am seething in anger, I am likely to lose my temper and lash out at others with a prideful spirit. After all, if everything went my way, then everything would be just fine, right?
Hmmm. There’s that original sin again. Pride. That larger-than-life attitude that not only separates me from others, but separates me from God Himself. If only He would … Stinking thinking that flies in the very face of acknowledging Jesus as Lord. Yes, that feeling of absolute defiance and rebellion against His will, as if we know better. Living in anger causes us to not only doubt God’s goodness, but it leads us to think our world would surely be a better place if we were just running the show. Like that has really worked for us so far.
Control. It’s the very thing we grasp for, and yet also the very thing that holds us back from everything we want.
Letting go – and letting God – is the only answer.
Then there's the next part of the verse, "Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” What's that all about?
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus suggests that in dealing with troubled emotions such as anger or worry, we contain them to just one day at a time. “Do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.”
God knows we are going to have troubles in this world. He acknowledges it. And He knows our human nature is to get angry and worry. He also knows something we often forget: He is in control.
We do not have to worry or fret in order for things to work out.
In fact, He makes it clear that worrying and being consumed by anger is a waste of our time and energy, distracting us from the very good He has called us to do.
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Jesus reasons, in Matthew 6:27.
I don’t have a spare hour in my day. If I did, I would want to spend it loving and laughing. Spending time with friends and family. Making the world a better place. Worrying will not give me that time. Staying in anger will take it away.
Are you willing to sacrifice love … joy … peace … on the altar of anger?
So today, I will do as Jesus says.
Today, I will believe that God cares.
I will accept the things I cannot change.
I will change the things I can.
I will pray for the wisdom to know the difference.
And I will tackle my life just one day ... one hour ... one precious moment ... at a time.
Are you carrying around a heavy load of anger and resentment today? Lay down your burden at Jesus’ feet. Believe that God cares for you and will meet your needs. Do not fear, for He will never leave nor forsake you! Let go and let God.
Angry? What's At Stake originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday, Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp,, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday.
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