"'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry."
This particular verse in Ephesians is one of the hardest, I think, in all of scripture to obey.
There is an old Chinese proverb that says “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.”
When I look back at a life with some bad choices sprinkled in, nearly all of them came from being angry. I said the worst possible thing when I was angry and wanted to hurt the other person as badly as I believed they hurt me.
I did the worst possible thing I could because I was mad and that felt like an appropriate thing to do when you are angry. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, right? Can I get an amen from the congregation?
We may immediately feel vindicated but Gandhi reminds us that “an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth” just leaves everyone blind and toothless. While it can feel so gratifying in the moment to lash back and lash out, it only causes us to be in sin.
In some cases, it started as an anxiety or worry and perhaps at some point turned to anger. Tossing and turning due to an unresolved frustration, anger, or hurt.
It’s easy enough to do. We internalize our emotions rather than speaking our truths. We bottle up our anger and do our best to bury it down deep inside ourselves. Taking the poison, as the old saying says, and hoping the other person dies.
The author of Ephesians is reminding us of two very important lessons: First, and probably the most likely, do not do something that we are going to regret when we are angry. Second, don’t go to bed mad.
Scripture is really countercultural.
It asks us to act differently and with more humility and grace than our counterparts in our communities. It asks us repeatedly to extend more grace, love, and mercy than even ourselves are extended. To be a beacon of light for those stuck in the darkness.
What happens in the darkness? Fear, anxiety, and anger.
What happens when you are given light in that same darkness? Peace, calm, and safety.
I am not sure if there are areas of your life causing you anger, hurt, frustration, and/or anxiety. The author of Ephesians is reminding us to hold our actions and our words back while in anger. Don’t lash out and don’t act when in a state of anger or frustration. We must wait for our minds and our hearts to calm and don’t go to bed angry. Resolve our frustrations that day and don’t let them spill into the next. Say the thing that needs to be said so we can be resolved and continue to show God’s love.
May it be so,
Rev. Lou Ward
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November 24, 2019
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