Anger is a valid emotion but one that has a boundary and whose line can too easily be crossed. We are instructed in Ephesians 4.26-27, “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no foothold to the devil.” This verse is instructional and insightful. God clearly teaches us that anger in itself is not sin, that it can be carried to the point of sin, and that it can give the devil a foothold. That literally means, “Giving the devil occupancy—a place to dwell.”
For some people, their anger not only crosses the line of inappropriateness resulting in sin, but they practically invite the devil to sit down at their table and sign a long-term lease to live with them.
Anger unrestrained will lead to all kinds of outbursts that will most likely cause regret. People that sin in their anger seldom stay on the issue over which they are angry. They often draw past offenses and hurts to the scene. This causes anger to swell, which can become the early stage of rage that always leads to irrational thinking. Unbridled anger or rage leads to irrational thoughts that then lead to thoughts of every kind of evil.
As words begin to erupt from this anger, they begin to flow like lava, and the devil now has a foothold. The words will be destructive and do damage to anyone in its path. In many cases, those words do long-term damage that is difficult for people to recover from – and some never do.
God’s wisdom tells us the danger in letting our anger ever cross the boundaries of inappropriateness.
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103.8).
God is not expecting people to meet God’s perfection. Christ was the only one who could. God is driven by love to help people make progress with great patience. God sees the best in us, not the worst. God dwells on what we can become and not simply what we are currently. God dwells on building us up and not tearing us down.
If anger is a problem for you, here are some steps of wisdom that can help break that in you.
Step 1: When angry, stick with the issue with which you are dealing. Keep grievances from the past out! Ask yourself how big of an issue this is in the scope of the big picture of life.
Step 2: Think solution, not problem. Just keep patiently working with the other person. Can you be merciful and help instruct them—in a calm way—how to make changes? Would you rather be known for being merciful, kind, and helpful or angry, tough, and ruthless? Which do you think is more representive of God?
Step 3: To keep anger from turning to rage, limit yourself to how much you think about or mull it over. Speak few words about it as words cause anger to grow.
Step 4: Pray to ask God to help you forgive; seek forgiveness for your own personal faults at the time of your anger toward someone else. Finally, pray for that person from a spirit of love and faith with the sincere desire to help them.
Break this into a plan for yourself, and the next time you feel angry you will have a plan to reduce rage to anger and anger to appropriate anger.