Relax and clear your head. Listen for the voice of God. What is God saying to you today?
Ephesians 4:17–5:2 (NRSV)
Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Sometimes when you read a scripture, particular words continue to linger in your mind. While reflecting upon Paul’s instructions to believers, I could not get the words of verse 26 out of my mind: “Be angry, but do not sin.”
For a long time I had believed anger was an emotion I was not supposed to feel. However, while preparing for the ministry at Memphis Theological Seminary, Professor Jerry Harber helped me understand that anger was an appropriate emotion to feel, but how I dealt with my anger made the difference. Dr. Harber must have read Paul’s words written to believers in the church at Ephesus. Anger, like other emotions, when not dealt with appropriately, can lead to sin.
Paul also told the early believers to deal with anger in a timely fashion: “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” Many of us know from personal experience that holding on to anger can result in words and deeds that have the potential to hurt others as well as our relationship with God. Thank you, Paul, for simple yet profound wisdom.
God, give us the courage and desire to acknowledge our anger and the strength to deal with it appropriately. Amen.
Go with God.