“In your anger do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26
Now that the weather is getting warmer, it will be my job to barbecue the hamburgers, or steaks if I’m fortunate! Over the years I have learned, through trial and error, how to regulate the heat on the grill so that the meat is properly cooked. If I waited until the coals were too hot, they would reach a point where I couldn’t keep the fire under control—and sure enough, everything would be charred to a crisp. My solution to this problem was to buy a grill with a lid on it. Closing the lid while the food was cooking reduced the oxygen flow and transformed the flames into a constructive, controlled heat. The outcome was tender, flavorful char-grilled food for everyone to enjoy!
Like barbecuing, we have the ability, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to put a lid on our anger so that it can become a productive force in our lives. Anger does not have to rage untended in our souls until it scorches everything and everybody nearby.
I find it important to note in our text that anger in itself is not a sin. The Bible says, “In your anger do not sin.” Anger alerts us that something has gone wrong. It’s a sign that we have suffered an injustice, or that someone has been treated unfairly. You can’t keep anger from happening but you can make sure that it doesn’t do collateral damage. If we are not careful, anger easily ignites other destructive sins.
So how do we keep the energy of our anger from bringing sin into our lives? One of the keys is to be slow to anger. The Bible tells us that God Himself experiences anger, but it also says He is slow to anger. Psalm 103:8 says, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
As we follow God’s example, being slow to anger will give us time to prayerfully evaluate the emotion. We might ask the Lord to show us if our emotion is really justified, or if we have done anything to contribute to the situation that has caused the anger in the first place. Slowing down gives us time to ask ourselves: “Do I have all the facts?” and “In the long run is this situation even worth my anger?” And time enough to ask, “What could I do to be a part of the solution by showing God’s patience, love, and compassion?”
It’s all about counting to 10—in a spiritual sort of way!
The combination of prayer and a bit of contemplation will empower us to redirect our anger to positive outcomes. It’s all about keeping the lid on the flames before you ruin someone’s dinner!
- Use the counting to 10 routine to take 10 seconds to pray!
- The next time you’re able to resist a sinful response to anger, spend time journaling about the experience. How did you feel as a result of choosing righteousness? What impact did your choice have on those around you?
- Unresolved anger is the root of many sins such as hatred, slander, and revenge. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you areas of residual anger; then take the necessary steps to free yourself from that pitfall.