31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. - Ephesians 4:31-32
God makes no exception here to letting go of our negative feelings - He says Let ALL bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you. ALL means ALL. We have a tendency to try to defend or justify some of our negative feelings because of what the other person has done, but God leaves no room for excuses. It all needs to be put away.
Some will try to argue for righteous anger, as if we have a right to be angry because someone offended or hurt us. Or they will say our anger is justified because the other person was clearly biblically wrong. But digging deeper into scripture reveals this isn’t the case at all. Just a few short verses earlier, we are told: 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,27 and give no opportunity to the devil. - Ephesians 4:26-27. Clearly, we are not to sin in our anger, and we are not to hold on to our anger. Brief, momentary anger at being wronged isn’t necessarily sin, but we are instructed to let it go quickly. In those brief moments we do experience anger, we are not to sin - for example, we are not to use harsh words or slander another person. Then we are to let it go.
Righteous anger is the justified kind of anger that motivates you to do the work of the kingdom - this is the kind of anger you feel at discovering child exploitation or injustices launched at people in poverty. When you see those kind of wrongs in our world, the anger it wells up inside of you should motivate you to make a change, to contribute to fixing the problem. It’s not the same kind of anger we feel when our spouse is having a grumpy day and takes it out on us. That’s not a huge injustice - that’s a moment we should be stretching ourselves to be more loving.
Yesterday, I mentioned the fact that we cannot accomplish this list in our own power. We need to allow God’s Spirit to move in us in order to overcome the list of sin issues in these verses, but at the same time, we have an active role to play in changing our behavior. We have to make the conscious choice to own our behavior and ask for forgiveness when we have failed - not only vertically, but horizontally as well. If we are caught in the same angry hurt cycle with a difficult someone in our lives, we need to stop looking at what they’re doing, and begin to take ownership of our own sinful angry response if we hope to see any change.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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