Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Thames River, London

Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Be angry..."

Our Fighter Verse for the week is a classic:

Ephesians 4:26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

This is a simple verse yet awesomely complex and is highly prone to misinterpretation. It is a restatement of Psalm 4:4 which is helpful to know when studying this verse, "Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still." Psalm 4:4.

The purpose of Eph 4:26 is to teach. It does not, as some believe, grant permission to be angry. You have to read no further than Eph 4:27 to see that this is true and then on to Eph 4:31 which tells us all anger should be "put away", consciously abandoned . "To be" in v 26 is an imperative but only in the sense that it concedes that anger will occur.  Our verse is actually encouraging us to avoid sinning by indulging our anger. It does not, in any way, promote speculation about what types of anger may or may not be righteous (a favorite pastime of many who misunderstand this passage) as all anger is to be put away.  

The Word Biblical Commentary gives us a good paraphrase of this verse, “Anger is to be avoided at all costs, but if, for whatever reason, you do get angry, then refuse to indulge such anger so that you do not sin.”

In other words, God knows we will get angry at times. He tells us to deal with it in an appropriate way before it controls us and becomes our primary filter. Another paraphrase could be "Deal with any anger soon, before the sun goes down." How do we deal with it? Since we are told that all anger is inappropriate, we repent. 

This runs so completely contrary to what the world would teach (and what our friends would say) that it's hard to believe. But bear in mind that any sin is a sin against God, not just other people (Ex 10:16, Ps 41:4, 51:4). Any and all sin demands repentance (Ez 18:30). 

This is poignantly true of anger which, left unchecked, is a cancer that will consume us. It makes us ugly, inside and out. It ruins our testimony and hardens our heart. Worse yet, it causes us to lose intimacy with the Father.  If we are ever to be free of the burden and chains of our anger, our first move is to repent and repent as soon as we feel it rising up in us. Then we can move on to the task of forgiveness. - jk

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