Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "The Wise May Bring Their Learning"1 (Lyrics)
In an instant, his anger caused him to sin, and shattered his dream of entering the Promised Land.
When I first read this verse, "Be angry and do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26a ESV), it sounded like a contradiction. It might surprise some gentle folk that anger is not always a sin. It depends on what we choose to do with it.
It was okay that Moses was frustrated and angry with the rebellious Israelites, whom he had led out of the horrible conditions of Pharaoh's Egypt. Despite God providing food and water along the way, they complained and disobeyed God over and over. To bring forth water in Numbers 20, God told Moses to speak to a rock, but instead, he lost his temper and struck it twice. That act of anger and failure to obey God as commanded cost Moses dearly. He lost the privilege of leading Israel into the Promised Land.
It is important to remember that our Lord is no stranger to anger. Psalm 7:11b tells us that "God is angry with the wicked every day." (NKJV)
How often we push the envelope and do things that God disapproves of! When our need for justification holds more value than extending Christlike love, we can be sure that we are not producing the kind of righteousness that God is looking for. The sickening stench of its aftermath replaces any desire for self-justification. We should be mindful that God chose love, grace, and mercy over anger, even though we don't deserve such love.
Friends, when anger remains, it festers and brews until it erupts and becomes uncontrollable. Like bad coffee, if left heated overnight, it tastes rancid and develops an unpleasant bitterness by morning. Unresolved bitterness can develop into rage, a powerful emotion capable of destroying whatever or whoever stands in its way.
Ephesians 4:26 – Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. (ESV)
Yes, there are things going on in the world that should make us angry. The Washington Post recently wrote that "Domestic violence cases have spiked during the pandemic." Sex trafficking, child abuse, war, and racism fill our news headlines, and should make us angry. That is the time to pray for the Holy Spirit to give us a voice — God's voice — for those in need!
Here is some further Scriptural insight on how to replace anger with forgiveness, self-control, and kindness:
Proverbs 29:11 – A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. (ESV)
Ephesians 4:31-32 – Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank You for hearing and answering our prayers. Remove any anger, annoyance, and animosity from our lives and replace them with steadfast trust in You. Fill our hearts with compassion instead of conflict, humility instead of hatred, and faith instead of bitterness. We ask for these things through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.