Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4: 26, 31-32 New Revised Standard Version
People often find themselves getting mad or angry for many reasons. Currently, many of us are frustrated to the point of anger at the situation we are forced to live in. We see people protesting for an easing of the Stay-at-Home requirements, and those in leadership positions are getting angry at those who are protesting. Sometimes, it doesn’t seem to be an exaggeration to say that everyone is angry about something!
Yet the Apostle Paul reminds us that although anger has its place, we should not let it dominate our lives.
The problem with anger is that it is such a strong emotion it can overwhelm and even dominate good judgment, and wisdom. That is why anger is a component to many crimes. People get carried away with their anger, and do things that they know are wrong. Road rage is but one of many examples.
That is why Paul cautions us to “Be angry, but do not sin.” If we cross the line with our anger, then we only end up creating a bigger problem for ourselves.
As Paul points out, there are times for anger, but being angry all the time is not healthy or good. If the emotion of anger is holding you as hostage, you are probably pretty miserable. Most likely, you are not someone whom others enjoy being around. Thus, Paul offered the Ephesians the following encouragement: when you are angry at someone, to not let the sun go down on your anger.
We are like a vessel: when we are filled with anger, we do not hurt those with whom we are angry. Instead, we hurt the vessel which holds the anger! That vessel can weaken and corrode. It may become brittle, to the point where it could actually break. Anger can make us become brittle, even to the point of breaking emotionally.
As Paul reminds us, we need to empty ourselves of anger each day. An evening ritual might remind us to let go of those emotions of the day. As you empty your pockets, and take off a watch at the end of each day, consider unloading your worries as well. We need to remove the concerns we’ve been carrying around in our heads. We need to turn them over to the Lord each evening. He’s going to stay up all night anyway!
“Come to me, all you who are weary, and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Our world encourages us to feed our anger, but Paul talks about putting away “bitterness and wrath and anger.” Our Lord knows us better than the world does. The Lord has our best interests at hear. He wants to help us unburden ourselves of emotions which could prove hurtful to ourselves and others.
Why? When we put away anger and wrath, we leave room for forgiveness, and kindness, to grow up in our lives. Our lives are like gardens: plants are going to grow: some will be flowers, and others weeds. We don’t want any weeds in our garden, so we must take the time and effort and energy to get rid of those weeds. Anger and bitterness can be like a weed. We are God’s flowers. He wants to help us build healthy and happy lives. Do you really want the weeds of bitterness to choke out the flowers of forgiveness? Of course not!
Remember that Jesus is not only the master teacher. He is also the master gardener. As forgiveness flourished in His garden, so may it also grow in our own…
God of the garden, help us to become like the glorious flowers we see blooming all around us in the springtime. Each day help us to work through our negative emotions. May we seek your will and grace before we speak and act. Thank you for encouraging and nurturing us. We want to grow strong and healthy in You. Forgive us when we stomp on Your beauty, rather than uplifting it. May our lives show others, through our words and actions, that You are beautiful. We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen