St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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Prayer: Keep my soul from the dreadful sin of anger, that it not rein in me. In Jesus name, Amen.

Scripture: “Be angry, yet do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” – Ephesians 4:26

At first glance, it seems that Paul is giving permission to anger. But if he were doing this, he would be contradicting Christ Himself who says, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5:22). Instead, Paul is simply taking into consideration the way of the world. Humans are tempted and moved to anger. There are no clean records. By simple provocation the heart swells its temper, and there the devil fans the flame. Satan is ever-watching for opportunity to singe the heart by a bad temper at the expense of love and patience, or through error and false doctrine at the expense of faithfulness. These two evils you will encounter, especially if you make effort to be a godly Christian, to defend the truth and live rightly and peacefully before all.

Yes, you will meet with all sorts of malice, deceit, slander, and rage; faithlessness for faithfulness, malignity for a right spirit, anger for kindness, gossip for a tamed tongue, because this is the world in which you live. You will be hurt, and you will be moved to wrath. In your own house, among your own Christian family you will often meet with what vexes you, and an innocent word of yours may hurt their feelings. It will never be otherwise as we live in this world. Flesh and blood cannot but be stirred at times by wrath and impatience, especially when it receives evil for good, for the devil is always there kindling your anger and endeavoring to fan it into an inferno of wrath and bad humor between you and your neighbor.

But in this…mess…says the apostle, you should be aware and not sin. Do not give rein, do not yield to the impulse and temptation of wrath. You will be moved, says Paul, and you will be tempted, and you may have good reason for anger, though most often not, but be aware of doing what your wrath would have you do. If overcome by it and led to rashness, do not continue in it, do not harbor it, but subdue and restrain it, and the sooner the better. Do not allow it to take root in you or even remain overnight, because allowing your anger to fester in your soul will cause you to fall into great sin against God and your neighbor and will ultimately kill your faith. And for whatever reason anger and wrath fester in you, it is not worth hurting your neighbor or defying God.

When you are attacked by the impulse of anger and wrath, go into your room, pray the Lord’s Prayer, confess your sins, and confide in God. Take a step back, acknowledge that you are no better or no more just in being angry at your neighbor than your neighbor is at you, and then approach the situation with a level head and a patient heart. Try to understand the situation soberly and seek God’s will rather than your own, and you may actually learn something. Seek the Lord and His ways, for He will lift you up and still your heart.