Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Today’s Scripture Focus: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26–27).
We are focusing on sin recovery principle number 10 of 12: “We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
We really need to be honest with ourselves (there goes that principle again). Are we easily frazzled? Are we uptight and cantankerous? The Bible exhortation today is clearer than many of us are willing to admit. God wants us to put away unholy anger. Full stop. I know that this comes as a surprise to most. You may even see it as some kind of puritanical contradiction of the verse itself. However, that is the reason we must take our time and not rush through the Bible. Then, we will surely have understanding.
Anger In The Life Of Jesus
Before we go too far, let’s consider the life of Jesus. Do we have any examples of Him becoming angry? Yes! For what reasons was He angry? Did He display anger when His enemies slapped Him? Do we have any record of Him being angry when they ripped the beard from his face, opposed Him openly, attempted to murder Him on multiple occasions, or finally nailed Him to the tree? No! Whenever Jesus was angry, it was directly related to righteousness. He was angry about hypocrisy, judgementalism, hard heartedness, disrespect of His Father’s honor, oppression, and self-righteousness. If you notice, none of these manifestations of His anger had to do with what persons X or Y did to Him. Please look carefully to see whether what I am saying is so.
I know, it’s not easy reading this concept. After all, is not anger natural? Well, yes! Hunger is also natural, but gluttony is sinful. A desire for sexual relations is natural, but lust is sinful. Having fun is natural, but intemperance is sinful. Talking is natural, but gossip is sinful. Are you getting the point here? Anything can be taken to places God never intended. Our natural desires, involuntary responses and perspectives may begin in a good place, but morph into the sin arena.
Sure, It’s Natural
I do realize there is still a giant elephant in the room. What about the be angry and don’t sin injunction? I am so glad you asked. This is two-fold: We are never to be controlled by anger. To be controlled by anger is to sin. How do we know? Here’s the second part of our answer. What did God say we must do with anger? “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:30–32).
Please do not run by this. The Bible just continued the thought from the beginning of this chapter on holy living by saying we must put away all, wrath, evil speaking, and bitterness. We must exchange all of this for kindness and tenderheartedness. I know this is a difficult pill to swallow. It is for me too. But, here’s another verse to help: “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, Because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: But those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.” (Psalm 37:7–9).
Directing Your Indignation
Yes, the Bible does say that we should put away, and cease from anger. It is natural. True. But we absolutely must not run by the counsel of the Spirit and example of Christ.
Let’s super simplify here: If you find that you are becoming angry with others because of how they have treated you, surrender that to God! If you find that Jesus has placed a special indignation in you against hypocrisy, judgementalism, hard heartedness, disrespect of His Father’s honor, oppression, and self-righteousness ask Him how to mobilize that holy indignation to work of Him and change the world around you. Give God your holy indignation for His use.
Please, by all means, search the scriptures to learn whether what I have said here is true. If you find that God says something different, please share the verses and let us grow together in the comments section. Otherwise, let today be the day you admit if you have difficulty with anger, rage, or wrath, and let God give you His strength to overcome it.