December 22, 2020
About My Anger
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“‘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 4:26-27 (NIV)
I used to misunderstand today’s key verses and use them in the completely wrong way. It was so convenient to pull them out when someone wanted to go to bed and I still wanted to talk about whatever was causing a conflict.
“Oh no, you can’t call timeout right now. We have to keep talking about this because the Bible says, ‘do not let the sun go down on your anger.’ Clearly, the sun is going down, so we have to resolve this.”
But I noticed recently that the three words in today’s key verse say, “in your anger.” It doesn't say, “in THEIR anger they better not sin.” So this passage isn’t about resolving all relational issues before 9 p.m. It’s talking about my anger, not our frustration.
As I looked more into this passage, I wrote in my journal, “Lysa … you’ve got to deal with this anger. Don’t lay in your bed and let it consume your mind. If it does, it will come out of your mouth and reveal who or what is mastering you.” I circled the word “anger” and decided to look up more verses to help me know what to do with my strong emotions.
Whenever I study Scripture, I challenge myself to go back to the very first time a word or topic is mentioned. I did this with the word “anger” and found myself in Genesis 4:2-8 where we encounter the first relational conflict in Scripture — the story of Cain and Abel.
I’ve known the story of these two brothers for years, but I missed a really important detail. In between Cain getting angry about God not accepting his offering and killing his brother, the Lord came and talked with him. The Lord Himself said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:6b-7, NIV).
And suddenly it’s not so much a story about Cain and Abel; God is speaking to me.
I’m blown away by this pattern God revealed to me in Scripture: What we let consume our minds makes its way out through our mouths, revealing the real source of what’s driving our decisions.
I see it here in the story of Cain and Abel:
- Mind: Cain refused to humble himself and allowed this anger to fester inside him.
- Mouth: Cain was not willing to let forgiveness spill from his lips.
- What ruled him: The sin that was crouching at his door deeply ruled over him, so much that he killed his brother. He gave his feelings the right to dictate his actions, even after God came and talked with him.
I must not let anger and frustration run rampant through my thoughts.
It’s hard when the hurt is so fresh or the frustration is so ongoing. Those are the times I don’t know what to do with myself — when I’m lying in my bed and I have unresolved feelings that just won’t go away on their own.
But isn’t God so gracious that He gives us today’s key verse and ties this valuable lesson to something we all get to see every night? As the sun is going down, I pray that we remember it's time to pause and let God tend to any strong or potentially damaging reactions to hurts that could consume us.
We can pray, “Father, I need Your forgiveness to flow to me and through me right now so Your Spirit can work in me and sweep my heart clean.” This doesn’t make light of or deny our hurt; it puts it in the hands of God so He can help us better process it.
Yes, forgiveness is a complicated grace that uncomplicates my anger and helps me see beautiful again.
Don’t read past that statement too quickly. Remember, our ability to forgive others rises and falls on whether we lean into what Jesus has already done. I must receive His grace for me and then allow that same grace to freely flow through me to others.
This is the Spirit of God working in us. And where the Spirit is, good can be worked. Peace can be found. Healing words can be spoken. Balled-up fists can be released. Gentler answers can be given. Progress can be made. The enemy can be defeated. God can be glorified. And the watching world can see more and more of the reality of Jesus in us.
Jesus, remind me when the sun sets each day that it is time to sweep my heart clean of any lingering anger and unforgiveness so I can show more of You to the world. Thank You for the forgiveness You have extended to me. Use me as an instrument of forgiveness today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Your heart is much too beautiful of a place for bitterness, resentment or unhealed pain. Sign up to receive Lysa TerKeurst’s FREE resource, “Why Bitterness Isn’t All Bad: Maybe Your Heart is Broken, Not Bitter” here.
Have you ever felt stuck in a cycle of unresolved pain, playing offenses over and over in your mind? You know you can’t go on like this, but you don’t know what to do next. Join us for our next six-week Online Bible Study of Lysa TerKeurst’s newest book, Forgiving What You Can’t Forget. The study begins January 19, but you can register here for free today!
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have you ever tried to use today’s key verses to resolve all relationship issues before bed? How might you apply them differently after today’s devotion? Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2020 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.