In his letter to the Ephesians (4:26), Paul admonishes his Christian brethren as follows: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
Recently, this is one of my greatest consistent failures as a follower of Christ. Paul is very clear that anger in and of itself is not wrong; in fact, certain instances should stir our anger. We should be angry at injustice, at our own sin, and at the devil’s working contempt into humanity for its own creator. These realities should anger us.
But then we should have patience. Gentleness. Meekness. Self-control. Kindness. Goodness. We should bear with one another, forgiving each other. Constantly. Consistently. Earnestly. This is the response to which we are called.
“Be angry and do not sin.” But I do. Oh how I do. Wrath, slander, malice, yes, even obscene talk pour from me, defiling me, in my righteous anger, despite the fact that I have Colossians 3 etched on my heart, and I know it specifically states that these things ought not be a part of the Christian’s behavior.
I am loathe to admit this, but I can do nothing else. How I sin in my anger. Sometimes with the aforementioned displays of malcontentedness, other times with the whispered slight or thoughtless contempt-ladened jeer.
It’s a strange thing to your sin so well, even as you seek to overcome it. I feel my blood boil, and I think, “be angry and do not sin…bear with another, forgiving each other. Just as the Lord forgave you so you also must forgive. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart…be kind, one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, even as the Lord for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. You must put these away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” And as the verses meld and resound in the passages of my mind, I so often, all too often, hold to that which is evil, and fail to grasp what is good.
I bring all this up because that’s how living life loving Christ looks. We go day-to-day, defeating one sin and storing up verses in our heart, even as another sin burrows into our soul and those same verses come to our aid. We brandish them as a sword not against the world but our own broken hearts. It is a war within us, that is against ourselves, our old selves, our selves without Christ.
I have no real admonition to you tonight. I have no advice. Tonight I come, in earnest, to confess that I have fallen to sinning in my anger, and I am in need of our Savior’s tender renewal, and his Spirit’s calming breath.
I wonder if any of you need it also. I wonder if I was finally led to type this post because one of you reading it sees yourself in my plight. I am praying for you. Be encouraged. Conviction is the evidence of the Spirit’s voice being heard, of your openness to his restorative grace. Listen. Accept. Confess. Repent. I’m right there with you, before the throne of grace on my knees, needing my Savior.
I hope that this post in some way encouraged you, if in no other way to assure you, that you are not the only sinner of your kind. We are all led to seeking forgiveness and healing, again and again and again. My hope is that the Spirit will work in my heart, so that I offer it to others also.