Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger
(Ephesians 4:26 ESV)
Christians are often perceived as people who are supposed to live perfect lives. We are supposed to be emotionally detached from the world only responding to situations with pure love, absolute forgiveness, and no hint of judgement. Any other response, such as anger, and we are considered so-called Christians.
Objection! Even Jesus got angry with the money changers and drove them out of the Temple. “But you ain’t Jesus,” comes the reply. I simply retort, “Neither are you.”
As Ephesians 4:26 implies, anger is not a sin; not necessarily. This verse is warning Christians not to sin if they are going to be angry. The normal reaction to situations should not be anger. Jesus equated anger with murder. He said the person angry with his brother is in danger of being judged as a murderer (Matt 5:22).
When we Christians get angry is should be righteous. Righteous anger is not getting riled up because someone in traffic cut you off or is playing on their cell phone instead of driving. Righteous anger is that which is aimed at sins. That which takes away from God’s glory and diminishes Christ’s name. Immorality, idolatry, and a false gospel comes to mind.
Righteous anger should have an end in mind to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ as the solution. The gospel allows the anger to be put aside that the sinner might be gently restored. And if such anger is brought on from a distance, where the offending parties are not available, that anger may then rest in the gospel without need to carry on. God will avenge and has given believers the ability to feed our enemies and overcome evil with good (Rom 12:19-21).
Lastly, we should not hold onto our righteous anger. We are to “not let the sun go down” on our anger. Anger should not be our first emotion, nor our last. And anger should probably be first directed at our own sin rather than someone else’s. If you are like me, I have to be careful with anger because it takes only a breath to move from righteous anger to sinful anger. Holding onto your anger gives Satan a foothold (Eph 4:27). God’s advice is always the best: be slow to anger (Jas 1:19) and have peace because Christ has overcome the world (Jn 16:33).
How quickly do you move from righteous anger to sinful anger?
Grace and peace,