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Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger

Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” (1 John 4:20).

The silence was deafening. Anger takes a massive number of forms but has the same root. Righteous anger has a place in this world, but anger used as a weapon does not bring about anything good. The Bible is very clear about anger. We are supposed to fight for injustices, but not fight with each other. Especially among believers, unresolved anger among us projects a hypocritical representation to those who don’t know Jesus. The verse above speaks this truth confidently.

“If we say we love God but hate each other, we’re liars.” Ouch. Don’t stop reading yet. We’re in this together now! Fortunately, nothing is hopeless when we seek wisdom and help to solve difficult behavior patterns, conflicts, and divisions. Today, I would like to speak into the form of anger which can be just as damaging as mean words …no words.

No calls. No texts. No news. No clue what the other person is thinking. No idea what is going to happen. Just silence. The silent treatment is a product of anger and a weapon used against someone we are angry with. It’s unfortunately often used as a way to hijack control of a situation and punish the person on the other side of the relationship. “Being human, we crave connections that offer us support, care, and recognition. Especially in an intimate relationship, we expect a partner to be there for us in ways that help us meet those needs,” Bernard Golden, Ph. D writing for Psychology Today explained. “Silent treatment fails to satisfy these longings and also reflects withholding and emotional abandonment. It is a cutting form of passive aggression.”

Even saying nothing at all, if we are revoking our presence out of anger, we’re lying about loving God. Paul wrote to the Ephesians. 

“Stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil” (Ephesians 4:25-27).

Silence allows us to sit in our anger and spin stories to ourselves about how sorry we and others should feel that we’ve endured this injustice. We start assigning false character traits to others and assuming their motives. Silence in anger can allow us to walk into silence one way and walk out farther from God than ever before. It’s a relationship destroyer. Jesus taught this lesson, recorded by the apostle Matthew:

“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgement.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgement! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God” (Matthew 5:21-24).

We murder people every day with our anger. Unfortunately, the people who are the closest to us often become the target of our anger, or the victims of their own. Jesus equates this level of anger to murder. I have witnessed firsthand the killing of good things because of anger expressed in the silent treatment. It’s a pain which freezes someone in time, leaving them unable to move on because they are robbed of closure. The other person moves on happily, or so it seems, whilst they have erased and cut out the problem of the other person.

Jesus is serious about this type of anger. He said even if we call someone an idiot we’re in danger of murdering them! Think about that the next time we’re tempted to choose to stew in our anger in silence, or tolerate that type of behavior from another person.

“Silent treatment becomes abuse when it is intended to punish, control, or gain power over someone,” Golden continues.“It is also abusive when it reflects a form of ‘gaslighting.’ This involves purposefully behaving in a way to cause intense self-doubt, lowered self-esteem, and internal confusion.”

This type of behavior is damaging, unless it’s a mutual agreement to take a break from an intense discussion. Silent treatment rooted in anger can be a dangerous weapon. Jesus is clear, “Go and be reconciled to that person.” We cannot worship God with a clear conscious when we are contributing to the pain of someone else.

These passages of Scripture particularly struck me, as the elevated action of murder is equal in the eyes of God as insulting someone or giving them the silent treatment. It seems extreme, unless you have experienced it yourself. Having endured abuse, I know first-hand the damage this type of behavior can cause. It’s possible to lose touch with oneself if we are not careful. Scripture is amazing. It gives us the ability to pull scenes from our everyday lives and be rescued from them with the truth. As I write, I am helping a sweet soul recover from this type of behavior. It’s not ok, and so unnecessary, to inflict such hurt and pain. It feels like someone is trying to kill us.

God is protective of His children. The Scriptures tell us what to do on both sides of the coin. If you feel you are being abused by this type of behavior, or worry you might be inflicting it upon someone else, stop-drop-and pray about it. Seek God’s counsel in prayer and in His word. Find a trusted friend, mentor, or pastor. Look up a Christian counselor. But don’t sit in it. The consequences on both sides of the silent treatment are painful. Let’s not murder each other when we’re called to love each other. After studying these passages, I will surely mind my silence, and my anger, a lot more than ever before!

Father, 

You are incredibly patient with us, and so faithful to call us out on these behaviors. Father, we confess any time we have murdered someone with our anger! Whether it be text messages, spoken words, gossip and slander, or silence, we confess those sins and pray for Your forgiveness! Help us to turn from those behaviors and repent of them. We pray healing and blessing over all those we have hurt, and who are hurting from painful attacks of anger. Let us not let the devil have a foothold on our lives and our relationships through anger, God. Keep evil from us! Help us to see each other, and difficult situations, through Your perspective. Give us supernatural patience to pause before we react in anger, God. We love you, and we pray for Your healing in our hearts, minds, and souls from the hurt we have absorbed through angry attacks. 

In Jesus’ name, 

Amen.

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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes

Meg BucherMeg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ at megbucher.comShe is the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” “Glory Up, The Everyday Pursuit of Praise,” “Home, Finding Our Identity in Christ,” and "Sent, Faith in Motion." Meg earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay home and raise her two daughters …which led her to pursue her writing passion. A contributing writer for Salem Web Network since 2016, Meg is now thrilled to be a part of the editorial team at Salem Web Network. Meg loves being involved in her community and local church, leads Bible study, and serves as a youth leader for teen girls.