Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wrestling with Anger

I came to the conclusion that it's not a sin to be angry because Psalm 4:4 and Ephesians 4:26 both tell us to be angry and not sin. But then, Jesus said in Matthew 5:22, "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment" and that left me wondering... Where's the line between anger and sinning?

Here are some of the times when our anger gets us in trouble:
  • When we gossip about it or speak in anger.
    • Be angry and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on you beds, and be silent. Psalm 4:4, ESV
  • When we insult the person.
    • "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:22-24, ESV
  • When we fail to forgive.
    • "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him." Luke 17:3-4 ESV
I think these are the reasons why Ephesians tells us to not let the sun go down on our anger; it's way too easy for us to get off track. So, what are we to do?
  • Speak the truth. We can talk to the person who wronged us as long as we speak truthfully in a way that "is good for building up" That means no shouting, no insulting, no exaggerating.
    • Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. [...] Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:25 and 29 ESV
  • Move from anger to forgiveness quickly.
    • Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malic. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:26-27, 31-32 ESV
  • Love and pray for our enemies. Jesus commanded us to do this, and that's comforting because our sin is an offense against God. He has the right to be angry with us; we were his enemies! Yet he loved us and died for us. Praise God! So how can we not extend that gift to others? 
    • "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:44-45, ESV
    • For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. [...] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:6, 8-10, ESV
    • "And should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?" Matthew 18:33
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