Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
Jesus said there is more than one way to sever your relationship with another person. For example, it is possible to murder somebody through infuriation–that is, with your anger. Jesus said, “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court” (Matthew 5:22).
Does that mean anger is always wrong? No. Anger is a natural physical and emotional reaction to perceived injustice. When we see atrocities being committed on the news, most of us get angry at what we are watching. Do you know why we get angry? It is not because we are sinful; it is because we are made in the image of God–and God is angered by injustice and wrongdoing. In the Old Testament, the word “anger” is used 455 times, and 375 of those times it refers to the anger of God. In John 2, Jesus was angry when He saw the money changers in the temple, and in Matthew 23, He was angry at the hypocritical Pharisees. The reason we get angry is that God gets angry. Anger is not always wrong, but anger that is not properly dealt with is wrong.
In the New Testament, there are two major Greek words for “anger.” One is “thumos,” which refers to a flash of anger that comes quickly and dissipates quickly. But the kind of anger Jesus was talking about is “orge.” This is a smoldering, internal anger. It is like a fire that starts in the attic of your house and begins to grow and grow until it consumes your entire house. This kind of anger was behind the first murder in the Bible. In Genesis 4, God accepted Abel’s sacrifice because it was according to God’s standard, but He rejected Cain’s sacrifice. Cain became resentful of his brother Abel. He thought he had been treated unjustly, and that perceived injustice led to bitterness, and that bitterness turned into jealousy, and ultimately Cain’s anger exploded into murder.
How do you respond to anger in order to keep it from escalating into sin and severed relationships? Let me emphasize the importance of dealing with anger quickly. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” In other words, do not go to bed angry. This is especially true for those who are married. Do not go to bed if you are angry with your mate. Stay up, work it out, and talk it through. I heard a pastor say that anger between a married couple is like wet cement–if it is allowed to harden overnight, it becomes almost impossible to deal with the next day. Deal with anger quickly.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Talk About Your Relationships” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org