ARE YOU GIVING THE DEVIL A PLACE?
BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity [a place, room, a foothold]. Ephesians 4:26-27
Let’s face it: everyone gets angry from time to time. Anger comes in two forms. There is righteous anger over sin and injustice. That type of anger is appropriate. The Lord gets angry over such things. But, there is also unrighteous anger where we get mad because we got hurt. To be sure, every hurt inflicted upon your heart and mine will turn to anger. It is just the natural human response to hurt. Every “ow” is followed up with a “pow.” When we get hurt, we will get angry.
The big question is what do we do with the anger? If we don’t take it to God and leave it with Him, we are in for trouble. When we let the sun go down on our anger and hurt feelings, we open the door to the devil. Every “sad” turns into a “mad.” If you and I don’t rightly process the “mad” by the grace of God and choose to forgive the one who hurt us, the sun goes down on our anger … and things go from “mad” to “bad.”
ENTER THE DEVIL
An angry, wounded heart quickly becomes a resentful, bitter heart when the anger is allowed to foul and fester. Resentment and bitterness attract the devil like a magnet, giving him an opportunity to set up shop in our mind and heart. Many once-godly Christians have been ruined by resentment and bitterness. Because they refused to forgive someone for hurting them, they opened the door to the evil one who “comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). When the devil gets a foothold, he turns it into a stronghold. Your Christian life will come to a grinding halt unless and until you rightly process your hurt and anger and choose to forgive and set the offender free.
FORGIVENESS IS NOT RECONCILIATION
Sometimes people get confused about this thing called forgiveness. They equate it with reconciliation. They think if they forgive the person who hurt them terribly, they will need to start having Thanksgiving dinner together … and they struggle greatly with the mere thought of that horror.
Forgiveness is unilateral. It is you making the choice, by God’s grace, to release your offender from the mental and emotional dungeon to which you have “rightly” confined them. The truth is your offender is not really incarcerated, you are. Unforgiveness is akin to burning down your own house in order to kill a rat. The rat scampers off, and you are left to sift through the ashes. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is opening the dungeon door and setting the captive free, only to find the real captive was you. The wisest thing any of us can ever do when we are struggling through “sad” and “mad” is to make the conscious choice to pardon our debtor and turn all vengeance over to God. He is the Judge, and He will repay at the proper time.
Reconciliation is bilateral. It takes willingness on the part of the offended and the offender to have reconciliation. The offender must come in humility and repentance, seeking forgiveness and restitution, and the offended must grant the forgiveness. When both parties come together, reconciliation can take place. To illustrate, I was wronged by a coach when I was a kid. Although he has never acknowledged his blatant wrong, I have forgiven him and hold no ill will in my heart toward him. In fact, I reached out to him a few years ago, expressing my forgiveness, but I received no reply. That relationship is not reconciled, but it is forgiven. The devil has no place in my heart with that hurt.
My friend Judi experienced a deep hurt in life. As a result, she was very angry at someone for his heinous offense. Her anger turned to deep bitterness and hatred. Although she was a Christian, she told herself she was justified in hating this man—and she hated him for years. Things changed, however, when the truth of Ephesians 4:26-27 sunk into her heart. She had been giving the devil a place through her bitterness and hatred. She wasn’t hurting him, she was only hurting herself. When the light came on, Judi chose to forgive and turn all the hurt and anger over to the Lord. The devil lost his foothold and stronghold in her heart that day. Judi, the real captive, was set free! Today, she is a radiant, joyful Christian because she simply obeyed the Lord and forgave her offender.
What happened to Judi can happen to you … and it can happen today if you will choose to forgive from your heart.
Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries
Dr. Jeff Schreve believes that no matter how badly you may have messed up in life, God still loves you and has a wonderful plan just for you. From His Heart provides real truth, love and hope on over 700 radio stations each day, in 182 countries each week on TV, and is always available online. Pastor Jeff takes no income from this ministry. All donations go to furthering the broadcast outreach. As a listener/viewer supported ministry, we thank you for joining with us to help speak the truth in love to a lost and hurting world. Go to www.fromhisheart.org for more information.