S: Ephesians 4:26-27 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on the cause of your anger. Do not give the devil an opportunity.
O: I’ve always taken this verse to mean that I am to be angry, but not to keep it going, because letting anger keep going will turn into bitterness.
However, lately, Brant Hansen on his podcast has been recently pointing out that actually, this verse doesn't say we are to be angry. It's saying that if you get angry, get rid of it quickly so as not to sin! The New Living Translation puts it this way:
And “don't sin by letting anger control you.” Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.If we do a search on all the Bible verses with the word "anger" or "angry", we can see that they fall into 3 basic categories:
- Humans being told not to be angry.
- Human anger having bad effects.
- God being angry because of something humans did.
We Christians often think that we must be angry against the evil people we see around us. But the Bible tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). So, none of us are righteous (Romans 3:10)
That's why “God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
A: This is not an easy thing to do, and we certainly cannot do it on our own strength, but God calls us as followers of Jesus to love our enemies and do good to those who sin against us. (Matthew 5:44)
I freely confess that I have felt a lot of anger and hatred against people that I think are doing evil. Barisan Nasional, Dr. Mahathir, Najib, or even the guy who cut me off in traffic.
I felt justified in my anger. I pointed to how Jesus got angry and threw the merchants out of the Temple (Matthew 21:12) as justification for legitimate anger. But I forget: Jesus is perfect. Jesus is God. I am not God. I am not perfect. My human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
Yes, I will feel angry again. But then, the correct thing to do is to put it away. As soon as possible. And do not act on it.
P: Father, this is a tough challenge You have called Your people to. We are called to be a people of love — that’s how people will know we’re Jesus’ disciples (John 13:35) When I am angry again in the future, please remind me of this, and by Your Holy Spirit, let me put it away quickly and not act on it. In Jesus' name, amen.
If you're interested in reading more about this issue, check out Brant Hansen's book, Unoffendable.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)