i was mad yesterday. not just mildly irritated, like when the wasps bother me when i’m trying to enjoy some time on the porch. this was angry mad, due to the actions and words of people.
first, i got an email from someone who was making my business his business, and it’s none of his business. know what i mean? and then, last night, some stuff i read online just got all over me. just made me mad. went to bed in prayer, ’cause i didn’t want to go to sleep mad.
i don’t like being angry. i think some people do, but not me. not that i think it’s necessarily sinful, i just don’t like the way it makes me feel. in fact, according to the Word, anger isn’t sinful. but unchecked anger can certainly get to sinful in a hurry if we’re not careful.
anger is a divine emotion. one of the things i love about our God is that He is emotional. and one of the emotions He experiences is anger. some call it a righteous anger, but i think that goes without saying, doesn’t it? after all, everything about God is righteous.
our anger can be righteous too, but there’s a fine line when sinful humans talk about having a righteous anger. God’s righteous anger is always directed at things that aren’t righteous. even when Jesus got mad, it was because things of God were being superseded by the things of the world. righteous anger is always about God’s glory. our anger – mine at least – notsomuch. which is why paul says in ephesians 4.26-27:
don’t sin by letting anger control you. don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
the greek work for ‘foothold’ means ‘space to operate.’ this passage doesn’t call anger a sin – it isn’t. but paul is warning us because he knows that the divine gift of anger, while intended to guide us in righteousness, is way too often perverted and used for our own glory and protection. if you’re angry, be careful. satan loves it when you’re angry because it makes you pretty vulnerable. it creates a place from which he can operate, a state from which he can easily tempt you to do something that isn’t at all righteous.
paul’s admonition to not let the sun go down on our anger simply means that when we get angry, we need to deal with it right away. and while he doesn’t point it out directly, the appropriate and immediate response should be prayer, as prayer is the chief way of dealing with the devil. prayer gives us time to slow down before doing something stupid in retaliation. prayer invites the Holy Spirit to come in and take over the director’s role before we foolishly give it to satan. prayer re-tunes us to things that are righteous, so we can either use our anger in ways that are in fact righteous and highlight the glory of God, or we can do or best to diffuse that anger.
this morning, i’m not angry any more. still a bit unhappy as i think of the sources of my anger – but not mad. i’m still careful, though. it might not take much to re-fuel the anger, so i’m staying in prayer until i can tell it’s fully gone. i’m not a big fan of giving the devil any room to operate.