Dave Jones

"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and give no opportunity to the devil" (Ephesians 4:26-27 ).

Pastor Stanley once offered a helpful analogy regarding what we do with anger. He said a jarring tackle by a linebacker on a running back at midfield is perfectly acceptable behavior. On the other hand, a blow by the same linebacker on the same running back out of bounds is a rule infraction met by a penalty. Thinking of anger in similar terms is helpful. If you keep your anger within certain acceptable bounds, it is not sin. David’s anger is obvious in the Psalms and Jesus visibly vented His anger in the temple. Nowhere are these actions described as sin. But when anger crosses certain boundaries, it becomes sinful behavior. Knowing those emotional and spiritual boundaries can be difficult, but there are a few helpful guidelines.

Often we need a cool-down period before expressing our anger and it is wise to give ourselves time to determine if our reason for being angry originates from our selfishness, pride, greed or some other self-centered sin. Assuming that we are sure we are not thinking sinfully, the cool-down period also allows us time to consider how God would have us handle the things that have made us angry. We can conform to the boundaries and determine whether or not our thoughts and planned behavior will please God.

On the other hand, it is not okay to allow the anger to create a constant, irritable temperament. We should find a Godly way to express our anger, but keep it within righteous bounds and resolve it as quickly as possible under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. It is folly to let our anger brew over days, weeks, or months. That’s a perfect breeding ground for bitterness and division.

Additionally, we must be careful to face conflict head-on. We should refuse to tell others about our anger and be sure to deal directly with the persons involved. If we are unsure how to constructively deal with our anger, we can seek Godly counsel from an appropriate counselor who would handle the information in a Godly manner.

If we hold our anger within for long periods of time, if we quickly react without examining ourselves, or if we gossip with others, we are not walking in the Spirit. We need His self-control and a mega-dose of Biblical love. We can make a daily choice to submit to the Holy Spirit in our emotional life and put our focus on Christ. The more frequent our fellowship with Jesus, and with the Spirit’s help, the more like Him we will naturally become. That is the lifestyle God has called us to and anger can be handled appropriately within that context.

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