Last week we saw how imperative it is for believers to be truthful (Eph 4:25). We are to speak truth to one another so that we remain unified in the body of Christ. And immediately following this appeal, the Apostle Paul provides believers with a warning about anger toward others.
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. Eph 4:26
The first part of this verse is quoted from Psalm 4:4 which reads, “Tremble, and do not sin;” where tremble can also be translated agitated or perturbed. As we look around the world, we can see there is so much to be angry about. In many cases, our anger is justified when we observe horrific injustices and evil that causes much harm to the innocent. It’s worth noting in our verse today that Paul doesn’t say ‘do not be angry’ but acknowledges that anger is legitimate (be angry) and may often be valid, however we are not to sin in our anger. This is often the great struggle we have, where we allow our anger to boil over to the point that we start to lose control of our thoughts and actions. We want justice, and the temptation to take it into our own hands can be overwhelmingly powerful.
Instead, we must allow God to handle these situations. Paul wrote in Romans 12:19, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”” Here, Paul also referenced the OT, specifically Deut 32:35, as a source for this assertion. The Lord will perfectly exact all necessary judgement, vengeance, and wrath in accord with His righteous character. We don’t need to do it ourselves, nor are we allowed to. Instead, we’re told in the next verse: “but if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” Romans 12:20-21.
In allowing God to be the sovereign judge of all matters, and in its place loving and forgiving our enemies (Matt 5:44), we then do not give the devil an opportunity. As we all have experienced, when our anger goes uncontrolled and we allow it to build, our thoughts become corrupted and we then have opened a door for the enemy of our souls to trap us in sin. If left unchecked, it can certainly lead to life-altering decisions that are far outside God’s desires.
While we are allowed to be angry, it must be controlled, and we need to let go of it as quickly as possible. This is why Paul said, “do not let the sun go down on your anger.” How happy is our sleep when we are not writhing in anger through the night! Releasing our anger is not only a way to honor God and allow Him to be Judge and King, but it also is healthy and leads to a quieter soul, deeper rest, and ultimately more joy in our lives. We can rest assured that all unrighteousness will be wholly dealt with by the LORD at the appointed time (2 Cor 5:10). Letting go of anger can be incredibly difficult and it may require committed, repeated prayer to release it, especially if the anger and hurt are deeply rooted.
When we get angry, let’s try to focus on being thankful that the LORD is patient and merciful with us when we stumble and sin, which often hurts others, and that without the saving grace of Christ, we, too, would be the subject of His righteous anger.Praise God for His love and forgiveness!