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
Anger is a naturally strong emotion. Oftentimes, when one is angry, it overcomes and overwhelms all other emotions that we feel. It is one of those forces in our lives that causes both good and righteous things to happen but also can cause regret, foolishness, and rashness. It is so much easier to give into our anger and feed that which burns within us. However, Paul’s statement in the passage above, which is nested within several admonishments, doesn’t tell us to avoid this passion. In fact, he tells us we should feel angry. However, he tells us we shouldn’t sin while feeling this strong emotion.
There are many reasons we feel angry. Often, it is because we see something has happened that is unfair, unjust, or unrighteous. In these cases, we should be angry. If someone is being taken advantage of, whether us or another or if someone is being wronged, then being angered is the good and proper reaction. We should get upset when these things happen because they are going against the commands of God to treat others as the image-bearers of God. With this emotion, we are not to sin. This is not easy. With anger comes the desire for justice but our sinful nature often mistakes revenge for justice. While these two are similar, true justice is not taking revenge through words or actions. Rather, true justice is brought by God and his law. It is sometimes difficult to not take matters into our own hands when we are angry. But if we do, we are not serving God but his enemies. Was Moses right for killing the Egyptian who was beating his fellow Israelite? He took matters into his own hands instead of having faith that God would free and avenge his people.
This does not mean that inaction is the only option. Romans 13:4 tells us that God put governments on this earth to enforce justice and to bring God’s wrath upon those who do wrong. In our culture, this means that one of the options we have is to call upon our authorities to bring someone to justice. Whether that be the police, state, or federal government, or something like church or family authorities. These are some of the means by which God will bring about justice. Using these avenues to avoid sin will help prevent us from falling into the same trap as those who do wrong.
This week, be angry but do not sin. Use the tools and authorities in your life to bring about justice for those who are wronged.