|"That sometimes when I'm angry, I have the|
right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the
right to be cruel."
Ephesians 4: 26-27 says it this way: "And '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."
So, the Lord knew we would, at times, become angry and provided instruction for His way of managing that anger.
"Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry" is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I tend to enjoy 'stewing in my own juices', as Momma used to say. I want to enjoy my justified anger and get every drop of angst out of it before letting it go.
However, Paul tells us the practical reason the Lord wants us to forgive in a timely manner...'for anger gives a foothold to the devil'.
When Terry and I were first married, we made a pact with each other and with the Lord to make our best efforts at trying to obey this admonition with regard to our marital relationship. I have often told people the two of us never went to bed angry with each other, but we sure spent some sleepless nights along the way! And, that is the truth. I cannot remember a time in our marriage that we closed our eyes while still angry with each other.
However, I cannot say the same in my other relationships. While I found it almost simple to keep my promise to Terry and to the Lord to deal with marital anger in a right way, I have found it anything but simple to deal with anger in general in the same manner. So, I press on knowing I have work to do in this area of my life.
The quotation above brings yet another factor into play when dealing with anger. I may have the right to be angry, but I never have the right to be cruel. Even as He hung upon the cross dying, Jesus cried out to His Father "Father forgive them, they don't know what they're doing". (See Luke 23: 33-35) If anyone at anytime had a right to be angry and cruel, it was Jesus Christ at that very moment in time! Yet, He patterned for us exactly what He had taught.
I have no delusions, I am not Christ and I make mistakes. However, because I am a Christian, I have the power available to me to deal with anger just as lovingly as did He. Our problem is not that we don't have the power, it is that we lack the resolve to use that power in the manner Christ intended.
When the Holy Spirit descended on the church at Pentecost, He brought with Him the power to live victoriously. ("On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit..." Acts 2:1-4a)
When I became a Christian and received the Holy Spirit, I was endued with that same power. ("But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14: 26-27)
How I use, or fail to use, that power is a decision that is wholly my own. When I mess up, I have no one to blame but myself.
Be angry, don't sin, don't give the devil a place (foothold) in my life. Those are simple instructions. When coupled with the knowledge that I have the power of the Holy Spirit to do exactly as instructed, I am left with the truth that I do as I choose to do.
Precious Father, help me do as You desire, not as I choose. AMEN