“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. “ Ephesians 4:26-27 (NASB)
Anger is a powerful emotion that often causes damage, but it can also be righteous. In Isaiah 64:9, the prophet prays, “Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord.” This verse implies God measures His anger in a way that fits each occasion. Today’s passage teaches that the Lord also expects us to learn to control our anger so it’s appropriate and doesn’t cause us to sin.
There is a line that must not be crossed if we want to guard against sinful anger. It’s obvious that verbal abuse and physical violence should be ruled out, but anger can lead to other sins that are just as deadly. When we see the following characteristics in our life, we’ve crossed the line:
Strife. Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry man stirs up strife.” Although strife can take many forms, it always pits one person against another.
Bitterness. Psalm 30:5 says that the Lord’s anger is for a moment, and Ephesians 4:26 warns against staying angry overnight. Extended anger festers and eventually leads to bitterness.
Isolation. Whenever anger is nursed, people become separated from each other. Proverbs 16:28 warns against this by pointing out that “a slanderer separates intimate friends.”
Retaliation. Romans 12:19 addresses this directly: “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God.”
What should you do if you recognize any of these in yourself? The first step is to confess it as sin and make a determined effort to turn from it. Every time a bitter thought pops up, repent and release it to the Lord.
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