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“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
(Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV)
In a chapter all about living a new life with Jesus, we find the title verse.
Right in the midst of a passage around futile thought lives, hard hearts, lying, stealing and foul language we find this gem around anger.
Now, I love that God gives us permission to feel the emotion of anger.
He is not telling us to behave like robots who respond only with positive emotions all day every day. He knows we are frail and human and will occasionally feel upset, which may demonstrate itself in anger.
The advice, however, is not to sin. To not let anger have more rule in our lives than it should.
We are not to let the day end whilst we are still angry. It is too risky. It can give the enemy an opportunity to wreak havoc in our relationships and in our lives.
The advice to not let the sun go down whilst we are still angry, though very basic and straightforward, can be a little more complex to follow through on.
Anger can become an all-consuming force that takes over our rational thinking and damages our ability to think clearly. We may lash out, hurting those around us with our tongues…or worse.
There is, however, hope.
Now, I love that God gives us permission to feel the emotion of anger…the advice, however, is not to sin.
There are ways in which we can handle our own anger to ensure that we don’t sin.
- Take a few moments to think, before you speak. Words can be so hurtful. The adage that claims that words will never hurt us is simply untrue. They can cut deeper than any other offense and be remembered for a long time to come. When you feel anger arise in your chest and you are tempted to lash out with your words, take a moment. Even if it is as simple as counting to 10 before you speak, do it. It could rescue you from breaking down a relationship that you really care about.
- Try to think of a solution. Rather than dwelling on the problem that has caused your feelings of frustration, try to funnel that energy and effort into thinking of a solution. Pick apart the dilemma and approach it in a different way.
- Once you have calmed down, share your concerns. Perhaps most importantly, remember to address the original situation that started your angry feelings. Once you have taken a walk, exercised and thought about your words, come back and talk. Share with the person you need to how you feel and why you felt so upset. This approach gives the best chance for the future of your relationship to succeed and flourish. Don’t rehash the situation, simply process a solution together and move forward.
Resolution, reconciliation and mutual compromise are the ultimate goals of any conflict. They ensure that love will always triumph.