Anger is everywhere. Murder. Revenge. Theft. Road rage. They’re all examples of what people do when they’re angry. None of them are good. The Bible speaks a lot about anger and how to act when you find yourself angered. Why talk so much about it? Because when we’re angry, we often do things that we regret (like anything in the list above and many other regretful actions). That’s why when we read Ephesians 4:26 (which is quoting from Psalm 4:4), it may sound a little crazy:
Be angry and do not sin.
Pretty simple right? It’s only 6 words long, but living it out is much more challenging than reading it and understanding it!
I heard someone ask the question this week, “What does it look like to be angry and not sin? How do you do that?” It’s certainly not easy. And yet, I got to teach about a guy last Wednesday at Awaken who I believe embodied Ephesians 4:26. It’s Paul, of course. We finished up Acts 17 last Wednesday, where Paul addresses the philosophers in Athens about their altar dedicated to “The Unknown God.” Acts 17:16-17 gives us a quick peek at what it looks like to “be angry and do not sin.”
16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.
That word “provoked” in verse 16 means “stirred up” or “angered.” It’s the same word used to describe Paul & Barnabas’ argument at the end of Acts 15 which led to them going their separate ways. It’s not clear who was right and who was wrong in that instance, but Paul definitely did the right thing here in Acts 17.
It’s this simple: Paul did something productive with his anger. He didn’t lash out, beat people up, or cut somebody off in traffic, he talked to them about Jesus. The word “Therefore” in verse 17 tells me that that was his remedy to the problem at hand.
The problem: the city was given over to idols.
The solution: tell them about Jesus.
Not sinning when you get angry involves doing something productive with your anger. Don’t lash out; reach out. Don’t hurt; heal. Don’t fight; fix.
Admittedly, this is much harder to do than to say (or blog about), but it’s certainly something to shoot for and it’s part of our obedience to God’s Word. God doesn’t make rules and set boundaries because He’s God and He can, He does it because He knows that the best possible way we can live our lives is in complete obedience to Him. He has our best in mind. Obey.
What’s the hardest part for you about not sinning when you’re angry?
What are some steps you could take to work on making sure you do something productive with your anger?