Summary: A challenge for people to recognise their anger, see that it may be a blockage of growth in Christ, and then to deal with it
Leaving behind my anger
Ephesians 4:26 – “In your anger do not sin”
Someone sent this letter to a well-known national Christian magazine:
“I find I am an angry Christian and my anger spills out unpredictably. I find it hard to allow myself to be angry. My sense of guilt gets in the way. I also find it hard to forgive people who made my life awful years ago. I think this is making me ill. I am always unwell and my doctor cannot find a reason for this”. (H&W April/June ’94).
One of the things that I can be completely confident about this morning is that everyone here has been angry at some time or another. From the youngest to the oldest – anger is with us as a human emotion.
The scream at birth may be our first experience of anger: pulled away from our comfortable environment that has been centrally heated, food on tap with the constant heartbeat of maternal lover, we were pulled into dazzling lights and then spanked on the bottom!
ANGER IS A HUMAN EMOTION
In her book “Living with anger”, Myra Chave Jones write: ‘There are probably only two emotions which hold within them such tremendous potential – they are love and anger’.
But in our text – Ephesians 4:26 Paul says ‘In your anger do not sin’. By his implication – not all anger is sin, but quite clearly, it is possible to sin because of their anger.
Infact I have no doubt that here today there are some in this congregation we cannot let go of the anger that is within them – it burns in you night and day. It’s been there perhaps for some years, it maybe what drives you – even keeps you going. And this anger is sinful – it is wrong.
Lets take a closer look at the text of Ephesians 4 to see the context:
This sentence is part of under context of 4:17-5:2. It is the language of being Christ like – in our speech, thoughts and actions.
Verses to note:
‘Don’t live as the Gentiles do’ (verse 17).
‘You did not come to know Christ that way’ (verse 20).
‘Put off your old self….be made new in the attitude of your minds, put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness’ (verses 23-24).
‘Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up’ (verse 29).
‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption’ (verse 30).
‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander’ (verse 31).
‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other. Just as Christ forgave you’ (verse 37).
Paul’s whole line of thoughts is taken up with living the new lifestyle of the Christian. Don’t live as you used to. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit
One writer translates this verse:
‘Don’t lose your temper, but rather ensure that your anger is righteous’.
John Stott entitles this section:
‘A new set of clothes for the Christian’.
‘new standards which are expected of God’s new society’.
This is a Hebrew idiom that permits and then restricts anger.
There are two kinds of anger:
Righteous anger v unrighteous
In the church – mostly unrighteous – Christians try to hide unrighteousness behind the righteous ticket – sin! Hiding behind an excuse ‘ this is the way I am’! Sin is sin!
In verse 31 – Paul says – Anger? Get rid of it – unrighteous anger.
In 5:6 – God’s anger will fall on the disobedient righteous anger.
But on the whole, the kind of anger that humans express is unrighteous anger, rooted in sin and spoken and sinful intent.
There is a good or true anger that can be learnt from it. Righteous anger, that in the face of evil, should be indignant and angry, not apathetic. What God gets angry at we should get angry at.
Paul’s content is ‘God’s new society of love’.
This paragraph is concerned with harmonious relationships.
But, true peace is not identical with appeasement.
E. K. Simpson says ‘The truest peace maker may have to assume the role of a peace-breaker as a sacred obligation’ (often true of the leadership)!
But, we are fallen as humans.
Need to be censors of our own anger – slow to anger.
‘The anger of man does not work the righteousness of God’.
Paul tells us not to go to bed until our anger is still raging.
But some Christians – whilst attempting to follow this – have taken it too literally, often damaging or reproving true anger.
‘Christians shouldn’t be angry’ we say. This is not so, because we are human, and because anger is part of God himself, we will feel angry every day of our lives.