26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
Anger is a potent force. Anger brings tremendous damage in our lives. Anger affects us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Anger damages relationships, anger destroys physical health, and anger separates us from the love of God. Not that God doesn’t love us, but we can’t recognize and receive that love if we are consumed by anger.
Most anger is sin. Most anger comes out of our own sense of pride. Our inflated egos. Want to know when people are the most egotistical and prideful? Watch how they drive.
How dare you cut me off? I will accelerate and cut you off. How dare you go too slow in my lane. I will follow closely, almost touching your bumper. I have somewhere important to go and so I will weave in and out of traffic. That will teach you to get in my way.
You can tell a lot about a person’s overinflated ego by the way they drive. Now if you are that driver I just described, just know God is ready and able to help!
Anger can quickly turn to rage. And rage is the emotional source of so much damage to relationships. So much hate, crime, assault, murder, war, and destruction are committed in a vat of rage.
Dallas Willard said, “There is nothing we can do out of anger, that is not done better without.”
So, is anger always a sin? Not necessarily. There are injustices toward the weak and vulnerable that should make us angry, for example. No, anger doesn’t have to be sinful, but it becomes sinful when we wallow in it for any length of time.
Hence, Paul says here, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry…”
What may start as anger that is understandable, quickly becomes a place where the devil can take up residence.
Martin Luther said it this way.
‘You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”
Or I recently heard another great phrase for this. “Anger is not necessarily a sin, but it has a short shelf life.”
So, how can I have anger, but not sin?
An example from what we previously talked about will help.
I have anger toward people who use foul and abusive language against others, especially the vulnerable. But, I can’t let that anger take up residence. So, if I hear that kind of language, I will quickly call it out. Even with strangers, but especially if I am in relationship with those who are using speech that may be hurtful.
And I expect my family members and friends to call me out if they think I am being hurtful with what I am saying. To hold on to anger and not call it out gives birth to grudges and negative energy against someone else. That’s always sinful.
We can learn to be the kind of people who don’t easily get angry. The key to not getting angry is to learn not to take offense. When someone attacks us or tries to bring us down, it is usually our own Inflated sense of self that causes us to be hurt in the first place.
If you already realize you are the adored son or daughter of a loving Heavenly Father, nothing someone else does or says can make that any less true. There is no need to be offended when you know your identity rests in the Father.
And there are times you may have allowed yourself to get offended, when the other person didn’t even mean to bring offense. You may feel slighted or hurt when it is actually you who have misunderstood where someone else was coming from. Again, don’t let the sun go down. Either let your anger disappear or talk about it. The devil loves grudges.
Watch how you drive and when you see someone else drive in an ego-inflated way, pray a prayer of blessing on them.