The Up & Downside of Anger
Did you know that it’s not wrong or sinful to get angry.
You will have moments of anger enter your life. It is normal.
The command, specifically in the Bible, is not don’t ever get angry.
Paul says in Ephesians …
Eph. 4:26-27 – “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
The command is “in your anger” do not sin.
Anger is a neutral emotion.
Anger, of course, can be negative.
You are waiting for a parking space in the parking lot and you see a car with its taillights lit up! And you pull up close and put on your turn signal and wait and wait and wait.
“What are they doing in there?”
Finally, as they are pulling out and you are preparing to safely pull in … another car swoops in and steals your space.
And you lose it!
In the car … with your kids watching!
Anger can obviously be a negative emotion.
But anger can also be positive.
For instance, the Super Bowl is coming to the Bay Area of California in a few weeks. And did you know that experts say that many hundreds, or some would argue thousands, of young girls are being brought into that city for the sex trade industry.
That should make you angry.
Several years ago, in 2011, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told USA Today pertaining to the SuperBowl … “It’s commonly known as the single largest human trafficking event in the United States.”
There is what the Bible calls a “righteous” anger…
- Children being mistreated and abused.
- Poor being oppressed.
- People misusing God’s name.
Friends, it is not wrong or a sin to get angry.
It is wrong and a sin to stay angry.
Eph. 4:26b – Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
The application we usually hear with this verse is in the context of married people not “going to bed angry.”
It is a good thing to stay up late and talk and resolve issues …
But there are also some issues in our lives and marriages that you cannot resolve in a few hours.
Because the anger a person feels at night is often not directly related to something that happened that day.
Here is something I have learned about anger in just the last few years …
Anger is a secondary emotion.
Anger is always a result or re-action to something else that has occurred in your life – it’s a secondary emotion.
Anger is like an iceberg where other emotions exist “below the water line.” They are not immediately obvious to you or other people. So what you are visibly angry about today … may have actually occurred days, weeks or many months ago and it’s just now coming to the surface.
You may have been “ignored” by a friend at school three weeks ago and it is just now coming to the surface today.
Your mom or dad may have “abandoned” you a decade or two or three ago and because of factors in your family, career or finances it is just now rising to the surface of your life.
So when Paul says “do not let the sun go down still while you are still angry”
He is saying … do not let today’s anger carry over into tomorrow and do not allow yesterdays anger to carry over into today.
Carry your anger as short a time as possible!
Eph. 4:27 – and do not give the devil a foothold.
When we allow anger to exist unresolved in our lives and when we carry it over from day to day, month to month and year to year these bites can turn quickly turn into bitterness.
And Paul says that we end up giving the devil a “foothold” in our lives …
The word “foothold” in the Bible is the Greek word “topos.” And it means to stake out a claim.
When we allow anger to exist unresolved in our lives … the devil stakes out a claim in our lives.
The devil owns part of your heart.
That is why Paul goes on to say …
Eph. 4:32 – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
I understand that this is not easy to do. There are some of you who have experienced horrific things in your life. It is incredibly difficult to forgive. And I would suggest the only reason you can even consider forgiving others … is because God has already forgiven you through His Son Jesus!
We have all been forgiven much.
And it is forgiveness that breaks the power and grip of anger in our lives.
Realize friends the Ups & Downs of Anger …
Anger is neutral, secondary emotion that is not sinful to have, but is sinful to harbor.[Tweet “Forgiveness is angers worst enemy!”]