WHEN ANGER CROSSES THE LINE
Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Psalm 4:4
This verse sounds familiar. Paul told believers in Ephesus to be angry but not to sin. To whom is David talking? Is he addressing friends of God? Not at all. He’s addressing his enemies and telling them to check their anger. Are they angry for themselves or for sins done against God? He gives them good advice. Get alone. Lie flat on your bed and ponder what you’re doing.
I’ve heard this great advice and probably you have as well. “When you’re angry, leave the scene until you calm down.” But calming down in order to evaluate the long-term fruits of my anger is new food for thought. Since acting on my anger conceives many trails of regret, pondering would be wise. What is at stake and what would contemplating uncover?
- I can rehearse why I’m angry and what words I will use to strike back. In my anger, I want to do the most damage.
- I can become further enraged and decide never to forgive what was done to me. That vow feels good and feels justified.
- I can conceive a plot to get revenge. When I get up from my bed, I will feel better. Satan will give me a physical and emotional ‘high’.
- I can decide to withdraw emotionally from the relationship and freeze the other person out. I dream of how hurt they will be.
- I can weigh the spiritual damage of staying angry. I consider what it will be like to have my fellowship with God broken.
- I can weigh the emotional damage. I think of some angry people that I know. I consider how difficult it is to be around them. I remember their faces and how toxic is their company.
- I can weigh the physical damage. I remember that long-term anger hurts my body. Joy promotes well-being. Stress is the #1 killer.
- Finally, I review God’s forgiveness of my own sin. Even when I wasn’t sorry enough (and none of us really sees our sin as God sees it), He heard my repentance and forgave me where I was.
I’m not naïve. If the offense is deep, I will not forgive them after 30 minutes of pondering. Forgiveness is a process and may take another year to complete. But I can arise prayerful, asking God to carry me through my hurt towards a readiness to forgive. That kind of humility annihilates revenge, emotional withdrawal, and physical damage. At the heart of all anger is a willingness or unwillingness to trust God to rule righteously. Do I really trust him with those who have wronged me? Or am I prideful enough to believe that they are better off in my hands. Forgiveness is not letting people off the hook. It’s taking them off myhook and putting them on God’s hook.
Father, Satan feeds my anger and wants me to fail. I will have to fight for my joy and restored peace with the sword of Your Word and the help of Your Spirit. Please help me to the other side. In Jesus' name, Amen
Originally published Friday, 24 August 2018.