Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians 4:26-27’

Ephesians 4:26-27 – “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

Last week we looked at the dangers of anger. Although God gives us anger as a way of motivating us to point out and correct wrongs, because we are weak and self-centered, our anger tends to lead to more unrighteousness and injustice. James 1:20 says, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

We also looked at the many warnings in the scriptures about the dangers of anger. If you allow unrighteous anger in your life it will destroy your relationships with others and with God.

We begin today by noting that –

Not all anger is unrighteous

  • In Mark 3:5, when many objected to his healing on the Sabbath, Jesus was angry. Angry that they couldn’t get it that people in need should be helped, perhaps especially on the Sabbath. This grieved him.
  • In 2 Corinthians 7:11 Paul commends the Corinthians for their indignation to clear their name about a matter he addressed in an earlier letter.
  • Of course, our text, Ephesians 4:26 – “Be angry and do not sin,” shows that you can be angry without sin.

How to express your anger in a righteous way

If not all anger is unrighteous, what’s the difference? There are three characteristics of the righteous expression of anger:

1. Be slow to anger. Another way of saying this is don’t be quick-tempered. Proverbs 14:29 says, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” James 1:19 says “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” (In almost any argument or disagreement, isn’t it nearly the opposite? We are slow to hear, but quick to speak and quick to anger.)

There are several aspects to slowness of anger:

  • Don’t judge by appearances: John 7:24 says, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” Make sure what really happened. Don’t assume you know the whole story from afar. Be slow to get upset in these situations. Check things out first.
  • Patience with one another: Colossians 3:13 says, “bear with one another.” Patience means long-suffering, which means that you suffer for a long time. We are to suffer with each other and our weaknesses for a long time. Don’t’ have a quick trigger. Learn to put up with others’ quirks and idiosyncrasies.
  • Overlook an offense: Don’t always feel you have to respond in anger to everything; be willing to overlook the small or insignificant stuff. As Proverbs 19:11 states, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

In all these ways we are being slow to anger; careful and cautious before we become angry. This is all about restraint and self-control.

2. Let your anger motivate you to act. If it is a situation that you have checked out and it is real, and serious enough that it cannot be overlooked, you need to act. Not in the heat of anger or a fit, but after you are able to think clearly, and gather yourself together. The point is – don’t put it off for weeks, or months. Ephesians 4:26 says, “do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Work to resolve the issue. It is dangerous to let your anger become deep seated within you. Don’t let bitterness take root.

3. Act in accord with God’s righteousness. Our text gives us a caution here with regard to anger. Ephesians 4:27 says, “give no opportunity to the devil.” When we act in anger in a way that is not according to righteousness, we end up with broken relationships and sinful anger in us, which Satan loves and uses. It’s like opening a door and inviting the devil into your life.

There are several aspects to acting in righteousness with our anger:

  • Don’t give full vent to your anger. Rather, exercise restraint. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” Never vent or unleash your full anger against someone. It will only destroy.
  • Act in love for the person. Our natural tendency is to let our anger move us to vengeance, punishment or retribution; to give back what we got. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:15 – “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” We are to love those who harm us and return good for evil.
  • Go to the person in peace and seek resolution of the issue. Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” Luke 17:3 adds,  “if he repents, forgive him.” We are to give mercy and forgive.

In all of this what I am saying is – use anger according to God’s righteousness. Let your anger stir you up – not to destroy, tear down or punish, but rather to find peace and healing of relationship with the one who has wronged you.

What if there is no resolution?

If a person is unwilling to deal with the issues; they won’t repent – what do you do with your anger then? Having done all this so far, can we now strike out and punish?! No. In this situation you must learn to give your anger to God.

Paul says in Romans 12:19-21  -“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Give your desire for justice over to God. God can handle these things. And we trust that God will act on our behalf as God sees fit to make things right for us. As Jesus says in Luke 18:7 – won’t God act to give justice to those who cry out to him? Yes. God will act for us.

  • If you don’t give your anger over to God, you will be overcome by evil (v. 21); filled with unresolved anger, bitterness and rage with no way to address the situation according to God’s righteousness.
  • But if you give your anger over to God and move on with mercy and love for the person, then you have overcome the evil done to you. You have overcome it with the good of mercy and love.

Finally, you need God to help you

Anger can be powerful; it can enslave you. To be free is a matter of the transformation of your heart. Something has to change within you. And you can’t do that in your own strength. Remember – sin is powerful, but God is more powerful! So seek God’s help when you struggle in this area of anger and allow God to set you free.

William Higgins

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