Don’t let anger give the devil opportunity

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Eph 4:26-27)

How do we live differently from the world?

One way we live differently is by putting away our anger. Not allowing it to stew overnight. It is important we don’t allow anger to stew because it will develop further. Anger, though sinful in itself, left unchecked will turn into further sinful action. Corrupting talk, wrath, clamor, slander, malice. All these actions against another can stem from anger and will kill unity in community.

When we allow anger to stew, we give opportunity to the devil. He uses our anger with others to create division and disunity. It’s that division and disunity that destroys the church’s witness, it hinders its mission. Don’t allow the devil the victory. Deal with anger in seed form so that it will not take root.

Respectable Sins: Anger | Part 7

Angry Birds

In the last post in this series, I looked at the long-term results of anger. In this last and final part on anger, I  talk about how to deal with our anger so it doesn’t escalate

How do we keep our anger from escalating?

Often anger left to brew will manifest itself in different ways. It may start as resentment, move to bitterness, then enmity and hostility, and on to a grudge before turning into strife. We, however, have to stop anger from running this path. We can do that by remembering and reflecting on a few things:

(1) Remember God is Sovereign 

God allows situations to occur in our life that have the potential to make us angry. Instead of allowing anger to take over and run its course, we should remember God has a purpose for everything. When we find ourselves in a situation where we are tempted to become angry, we should ask ourselves what purpose could this situation have in my life?

Admittedly, the question is an easy one to ask. The answer, however, doesn’t always come so easy. Think about Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his brothers. He was imprisoned in Egypt because Potiphar’s wife couldn’t have her way with him. He was forgotten by the cup bearer and left in prison to rot.

During that time, I am sure Joseph wondered what purpose all this had. Why God allowed this to occur in his life. For years, he didn’t know why. Eventually though, he discovered its purpose. It was to make a way for God’s chosen people – Israel – to survive a severe famine. A famine that couldn’t be foreseen or predicted.

God has a plan for everything that occurs in our life. We may never know the answer to the question why, but we can rest in the fact that God is sovereign and in control. Knowing that should help us deal with our anger before it escalates.

(2) Pray God would allow us to grow in our love for others, even those who have wronged us.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that:

Love is not…rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.”

The NIV translates “resentful” as “keeps no record of wrongs” and “it is not irritable” as “is not easily angered.”

You can see why it is important we pray for love. It helps us forget and wipe the slate clean, as well as it keeps us from being easily angered.

So if you find yourself angry at another, pray that your love for them would increase. It is a sure fire way to kill your anger and keep it from escalating.

(3) Forgive as God has forgiven us

The parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35 teaches us that our forgiveness of others is based on God’s forgiveness of us.

If we are having a hard time forgiving someone who has wronged us, we need to turn to the gospel. As we do, we need to remember God forgave us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8).What a great truth! God forgave us why we were still sinners.

While we would admit what God has done is awesome, I believe we often miss the greatness of this verse. I believe that for two reasons.First, because it is a verse we have read and quoted so many times. Second, because we don’t realize the true nature of sin.

Sin is more than missing the mark. It is more than breaking a few commandments. Sin is an all out attack on God’s right to rule. Our sin can be compared to a band of rebels storming the castle with the intent of removing the king from his throne in order to set their own king in his place. When we sin, that is what we are doing. We are storming God’s throne room with the intent of setting our own selves in His place as the ruler of our lives.

Paul tells us that while we were sinners – rebels – God forgave us of our sins by dying in our place. If God can extend forgiveness to rebels who are attempting to overthrow Him, certainly we can find a way to extend forgiveness to others who have sinned against us.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What else can help to keep anger from escalating?


Post adapted from Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 121-28


Respectable Sins: Anger | Part 6

Angry Birds

In the last post in this series, I looked at the reasons we get angry at God. Today we explore the long-term results of anger.

The Long-Term Results of Anger

If we let anger bake long enough, something is going to come out of the oven. What that something is depends on how long you allow your anger to remain in the cooker. Here is a list of what you might expect as a result of your anger:

(1) Resentment – Resentment is anger that arises and builds because of unfair treatment.

It is usually manifested internally. And it can occur for a number of reasons. A boss overstepping at work.  A wife dominated by an overbearing spouse. A kid bullied on the playground. All these can cause resentment, especially if the person feels like they can’t change the situation.

(2) Bitterness – Bitterness  is a feeling of ongoing animosity.

When resentment is left to soak, it can grow into bitterness. How do we know when resentment has moved to bitterness? A tell-tale sign of bitterness is unforgiveness, and a greater degree of ill will is often expressed toward the person resented.

(3) Enmity and Hostility – Enmity and Hostility represents a greater degree of ill will toward the person. Whereas, bitterness is often “to some degree marked by polite behavior, enmity or hostility is usually expressed openly. Often it is in the form of denigrating or even hateful speech toward or about the object of the animosity” [1].

(4) Grudge – A grudge is a persistent feeling of ill will toward another.

Grudges occurs when anger and unforgiveness have occurred for an extended period of time. It results in hostility and a desire for revenge.

(5) Strife – Strife is open conflict or turmoil between parties.

Strife can occur in a number of settings:

  • Families
  • Churches
  • Communities

Because it involves multiple individuals who have formed themselves into groups, it especially needs to be eradicated. Not only for peace and safety, but because it hurts our witness for Christ in the surrounding community.

Unchecked and Undealt with Anger Escalates

These categories show us that anger left to bake heats up. It escalates over time. What starts out as resentment moves to bitterness, then to enmity and hostility, next to a grudge, and finally into strife.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Have you noticed your anger escalating if left unattended?

Looking Forward

In the next post in this series, I will talk about how to deal with our anger so it doesn’t escalate.


Post adapted from Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 121-28

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 132.


Respectable Sins: Anger | Part 5

Angry Birds

In the last post in this series, I answered the question: How do we show our anger? Today I will look at reasons we get angry at God.

Anger Toward God

Anger toward God usually stems from thinking God has let us down, or that God is actually against us.

Even though people get angry with God, it is never ok to be angry at God. It’s not ok because anger toward God means we are making a moral judgment. We are accusing God of wrongdoing and sinning against us. We are accusing Him of neglecting or treating us unfairly.

Thinking God has neglected or treated us unfairly means we believe God owes us a better deal in life than we are getting [1].

How do we deal with anger against God?

First, realize we don’t have to stuff our feelings and live in alienation from God.

Second, we have to trust in the sovereignty, wisdom, and love of God.

Third, we should bring our questions to God in prayer. When we pray, we should do several things.

  1. Admit we are confused by the situation and we are having a hard time seeing God’s love in what we are going through.
  2. Ask God to help us trust Him.
  3. Ask God to strengthen us so we don’t fall into the temptation to be angry at Him [2].

Fourth, we have to remember God is a forgiving God. Our anger is not unforgivable. Jesus paid the price for our anger towards Him on the cross. We can rest knowing even if we get angry with God, forgiveness awaits. Isn’t that amazing?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you believe you deserve better than what you are getting?
  2. Are you angry at God?
  3. Have you gone to God asking Him to help you understand your situation?
  4. Are you amazed that God forgives even our anger?

Looking Forward

In the next post in this series, I will talk about the long term results of anger.


Post adapted from Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 121-28

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 127.
[2] Ibid.


Respectable Sins: Anger | Part 4

Angry Birds

In the last post in this series, I answered the question: How are we supposed to respond when others sin against us? Today I will look at how we show our anger and how we should handle our anger in a God honoring way.

How Do We Show Our Anger?

Different people show their anger differently. Here are three different ways people show their anger:

1. Some externalize their anger with strong emotional responses and hurtful language.
2. Others externalize it by making belittling or sarcastic comments about or to a person who is the object of their anger.
3. Yet others, tend to internalize their anger in the form of resentment.

These are not all the ways people show their anger, but it is a start. With that in mind, let’s answer our second question: How do we handle our anger in a way that honors God?

How Do We Handle Our Anger in a God Honoring Way?

First, recognize and acknowledge our anger as sin.

We cannot deal with anger until we recognize our actions as anger, and recognize that anger is a sin.

Second, ask why we became angry.

Did we become angry because of our pride, selfishness, or desire to be in control? Is there an idol we are protecting?

Third, change our attitude toward the person by forgiving them.

Meditating on Scriptures may help to change your attitude toward the person. Here are a couple I recommend: Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13

Fourth, if our anger was outwardly directed toward someone, we need to ask the person to forgive us. 

We cannot let our anger fester, nor can we allow our sin against another. We must deal with it quickly before it escalates. Anger and unreconciled relationships only cause disunity in the church and hinder our ability to worship God.

Finally, we need to hand over to God the occasion of our anger.

Jerry Bridges says,

“We must believe that God is absolutely sovereign in all the affairs of our lives (both the good and the bad) and that all the words and actions of other people that tempt us to anger are somehow included in His wise and good purposes to make us more like Jesus.” [1]

Questions for Reflection

  1. How do you handle your anger?
  2. Do you recognize your anger as sin?
  3. Are you willing to seek out and ask others forgiveness?

Looking Forward

In the next post in this series, I will talk about why we often get angry at God.


Post adapted from Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 121-28

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 126.


Respectable Sins: Anger | Part 3

Angry Birds

In the last post in this series, I answered the question: What is the cause of sinful anger? Today I will look at how we are to respond when others sin against us.

How to Respond When Others Sin Against Us

When others sin against us, we can respond in one of two ways. We can:

  1. Get angry
  2. We can respond by being mindful of God

Instead of anger, we should be mindful of God. Peter gives this advice to a slave who has an unjust master.

In 1 Peter 2:18-20 he writes,

“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”

What does it mean to be mindful of God?

Being mindful of God means that we are to think of God’s will and His glory instead of our will and our glory. Instead of getting angry and blowing up on another, we relax, take a deep breath, and think about our Christian witness. In order to do this we have to see God’s glory as more important than our own.

Admittedly, keeping God’s glory supreme is difficult. For that reason, Jerry Bridges provides a few questions we can ask to keep ourselves mindful of God:

  1. How would God have me respond in this situation?
  2. How can I best glorify God by my response?
  3. Do I believe that this difficult situation or this unjust treatment is under the sovereign control of God and that in His infinite wisdom and goodness He is using these difficult circumstances to conform me more to the likeness of Christ? (see Rom. 8:28; James 1:2-4)

By being mindful of God, we can better deal with our anger when others sin against us. So the next time you are tempted to blow up on another, keep your witness and God’s glory in mind.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you mindful of God when others sins against you?
  2. Do you have God’s glory in mind or your own pride?
  3. Can you think of a situation where you were mindful of God and it served as an effective witness?

Looking Forward

In the next post in this series, I will talk about how we show our anger.


Post adapted from Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 121-28