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Summary: Discusses anger

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Anger

• Eph 4:26 "In your anger do not sin": {26 Psalm 4:4} Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

• Eph 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Anger (4:26) has been a confusing expression for the Christian. It is often seen and denounced as a sinful trait that should be erased from the believer. We attempt to rename it by more spiritual terms such as "righteous indignation" or "spiritual fervor." In reality, we can’t empty ourselves from anger anymore than we can empty ourselves of any of the emotions God has created in us.

Anger is not a sin, though it can be used in a sinful way. Paul notes this distinction when he quotes Psalm 4:4: In your anger do not sin. The prohibition is on the improper use of the emotion, and not the emotion itself. Anger is basically a defense mechanism built into us to protect us in life. Without it, we would be overtaken in no time. The trick to anger is to know when its expression is appropriate or sinful. One way to make the discernment is by distinguishing between its constructive and destructive effects.

A constructive effect of anger is when it corrects a wrong. People who are opposed to certain social issues will find that anger is a motivation to speak out, protest, and actively become involved in the process that will bring change for the better. A spouse or a parent unhappy with a behavior may endure it until moved with dissatisfaction to protest and demand a change. Anger expressed out of genuine concern and in constructive ways that will bring about positive change is appropriate. However, those expressions of anger that result in harm or destruction are not appropriate. If our anger is destructive, then we have sinned. If our correction of a child results in abuse, we have sinned. If a disagreement with our spouse or another person results in physical harm, we have sinned. The Christian is one who recognizes the necessity of anger and exercises it appropriately as the tool it was created to be.

Paul mentions one improper use of anger—anger that is held onto over an extended period of time: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry (4:26b). While anger may be productive, extended anger is destructive. Grudges, an unforgiving spirit, and non-cooperative attitudes are all expressions of confused anger. Anger allowed to fester over time becomes bitterness. Bitterness influences every part of a person’s life. By holding on to the anger, we endeavor to hurt the person we are angry continually until we are satisfied. The problem is that we are never satisfied. Bitterness is like an ocean. No matter how much water flows into it, it never gets enough. No matter how many times we express our anger in a grudge, it will never be enough. Eventually, the anger destroys the one harboring it and, therefore, it is a sin.

Grudges and bitterness are divisive tools used often by Satan. One of his traits is to cause a division among God’s people. "Divide and conquer." Unforgiving anger becomes the cutting tool of the Devil. The angry person carries this bitterness in and out of the church, separating people from each other. In some cases, the angry person will single out an individual and drive him or her away from the herd—Do not give the devil a foothold (4:27). The sobering truth that embittered people need to hear is “their actions are not of God, no matter how justified they may feel.” It is the beginning toehold by which Satan scales the walls to enter into the fold (see John 10:1). "Wesleyan Commentary on Ephesians"


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