Summary: having peace always.
Anger in the Midst of Peace
Sunday - July 6, 2003
“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. 4:26-27
Early last Sunday morning while vacationing in the mountains of San Diego, I was sitting on the balcony while everyone else was still asleep. The air was calm, the birds were chirping and the flowers were beautiful. I was reading a book on John and meditating on what I was reading and thinking about how peaceful it was being in such a beautiful place. However, my meditation was interrupted by a loud voice coming from the condo across the street. I heard a man and a woman yelling at each other and the man said some things that were extremely nasty. She responded in kind. I later heard the man get into it with a teenage boy. While all of this was going on, I thought “how can such anger exist in such a peaceful place?”
This is the basis for the message this morning. I want you to examine those times when you have been angry and said things you later regretted. I also want to encourage you, as I have myself, to make a decision to guard your tongue, especially when you are angry. In the times of anger, people really say what’s on their minds and justify it by saying they were only speaking the truth. This morning, we will examine our “other side” – the side that gets fired up and sometimes causes us to sin against God and our fellow man.
Paul wrote in Ephesians that we should be “angry and sin not.” Is it possible to get angry and not sin? Anger is defined as “hostile feelings because of opposition.” Hostile means “of or characteristic of an enemy, unfriendly, a feeling of enmity, or ill will.” If we combine these two definition, it would read something like this “Anger is a hostile feeling because of opposition, a feeling that characterizes an enemy, one who desires ill will towards another.”
When you read this, it makes you wonder if you can truly be angry and sin not. The very nature of anger brings us to the point of taking on the characteristic of an enemy, with the desire to do ill will, or not to do good will towards the person who made us angry. This is where we can easily enter into sin and why Paul felt it was important to remind us that if we become angry, we must not sin. When we as Christians are saved, we don’t lose our emotions, those feelings that are a natural part of us. What happens is that with time we learn to control them. We have examples in the Bible of people who became angry, maybe justifiably, and sinned. We also have examples of Christ becoming angry and not sinning. Paul also said that we should not let the sun go down on our anger so that we do not give an opportunity to the devil. This is a key point. The longer you let anger fester, the worse it gets and the angrier you get. Paul says that our anger should not last past the day; deal with it so that it does not lead us to sin. He paints the picture that if we don’t deal with it, Satan is waiting to use that against us. Let look at some Biblical examples.
Genesis 4:6 says “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?” This is the story of the first murder described in the Bible. Cain and his brother Abel brought a sacrifice to God; God accepted Abel’s and rejected Cain’s. Cain became angry and focused that anger on Abel. Although Abel had done absolutely nothing to Cain, to Cain he represented the “reason” God rejected his sacrifice. God told Cain that if he does well his countenance will be uplifted, but if he does not do well, sin lies at the door. Cain’s anger festered until he acted on it and killed his brother. Remember the definition of anger, having hostile feelings, having a desire for ill will towards another. The Bible doesn’t tell us how long (how many days) he was angry, only that it got to the point where it festered until he released it by killing his brother. From this we see why Paul said “be angry and yet do not sin, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”
Genesis 49:7 says “Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel…..” Jacob is speaking prophecies towards his sons as he is preparing to die. He references what Simeon and Levi did back in Genesis 34. Remember their sister Dinah was raped and they took revenge on the Shechem and all the men of the city by killing them. Jacob cursed their anger and said they would not inherit what God had promised. Their descendants did not inherit on their own; their tribes basically ceased to exist as the others and were dispersed among their brothers. Again, we see the result of anger and how it led to sin.