Ok. Paul might say, ” When you are angry, don’t let it carry you into sin” (Ephesians 4:26). But I needed to get your attention.
I had an anger management problem when I was younger. Some people might even say I still do, but that’s because they didn’t know me back then. Oh, I still get angry. That part has not gone away, nor will it because anger is a natural human emotion. No, what has changed, and continues to improve as time goes on, is the way I deal with my anger. What has changed is the way I express myself when I’m angry.
Paul doesn’t say don’t get any here. Heck, even Jesus got angry when he threw the money changers out of the temple in what I like to call his Temple Tantrum. Like I said, anger is normal. It’s what we do with our anger that concerns Paul most, and it should concern us as well.
So, what does sinning in anger look like? It looks like retaliation, vengeance, violence, lying, deception, revenge. Reducing other people into objects of received aggression is what sinning in anger looks like. It means getting angry and hurting others.
Just like honesty and truth telling must be couched in love, so too must be our anger. If we are humble, gentle, patient and tolerant, then our response when we get angry will not be retaliation.
We will get angry and wait before we speak (patience). While we wait, we will remember that we are angry at another human being with feelings (humility). While we wait, we might realize that the reason for our anger is misplaced or overblown and that what seems so rage-worthy is really the result of our intolerance toward something we are not used to (tolerance). By the time we get around to speaking, we are in a much better position to show gentleness. That doesn’t mean we don’t speak against the things that make us angry. It simply means that we do not allow our anger to cause us to stop loving the person who makes us angry. Not showing love is the greatest sin anger can cause us to commit.
Speaking should be the last thing we do when we are angry and waiting should be the first thing. We are going to make each other angry. That is a guarantee. We cannot possibly trust each other if we hurt each other when we do.