A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:25-27
The chore I dread the most is doing the dishes. Technically, I’m supposed to tackle them every night after dinner, but my disdain for this task often means an overflowing sink full of dirty dishes is staring back at me come Saturday morning. This is when I consider making the switch to paper products.
My reluctance to deal with the dishes each night created this mess. I have no one to blame but myself. Ignoring the plates, pans and bowls didn’t make them go away. All it did was let the grime, gunk, and food residue congeal to form such a hard structure that I need a chisel to remove it. A dried out Brillo pad and hard as a rock sponge remind me of my neglect. The dish soap, which promises to make things come off easily, is no match for the soda stains, sour milk rims, and crusty pans. The only thing that works is rolling up my sleeves and getting in there with some elbow grease and scraping away the mess.
The reality is many of us treat our anger similarly to the way I handle my dishes. We ignore the warning signs and let bitterness and cynicism sit and fester. Without realizing it, our heart becomes hardened, our perspective becomes jaded and we see ourselves solely through the lens of a victim. We find ourselves making excuses and justifying our anger.
By making ourselves out to be the victim we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions. How often do you catch yourself saying, “if my wife would…..if my boss would…..if others just……” It’s always someone else’s fault. Pride is a funny thing. When you are all alone, your pride enables you to justify your behavior. In your mind, anything and everything can seem logical. Anger keeps your excuses relevant.
The longer we neglect our anger, the more resentment, revenge and entitlement scar our heart. Ignoring the problem gives the enemy traction in our lives. Anger destroys the fertile soil in which God’s word takes root. Anger is never static. It is looking for an opportunity to destroy us, and the work God is doing in our life. Anger desires to see us explode outwardly or implode inwardly by simmering with resentment or engaging in destructive behaviors. Our anger serves to reveal some wickedness in us. It serves to reveal some hardness that prevents the work of God in our lives. This is why anger can’t be managed. It must be mastered. Once sin is crouching at the doorstep of our hearts, we must quickly realize and address it or else it will dominate us and leads us to hurt others and ourselves.
It goes deeper than a will-power trick or exercise. What is required is a perspective change that is rooted in God’s word. Being slow to anger is not just sucking it up or becoming a pushover. It is about allowing God to do something in your heart that brings about life and peace. Resentment and revenge require forgiveness. Entitlement is only defeated by gratitude. The rise of anger should awaken you to God’s perspective and His grace.
- How do we give the devil a foothold by holding on to our anger? What occurs as a result of not dealing with our anger?
- Anger destroys the fertile soil in which God’s word takes root. Are there places of your heart that have become hardened? Is so, where and how did it happen?
God, may I not let the sun go down on my anger. Rather than ignore the problem, help me to explore what is driving my anger. Help me to take my anger seriously. I desire for my life to be defined by forgiveness instead of bitterness and resentment. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.