Together in Christ: 'Is Anger in Control?' — Ephesians 4:26-27

Saturday, May 18, 2024

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 4:26-27 NLT

Key Thought

In this passage, Paul addressed anger among the Ephesians Christians and stressed the importance of not allowing it to fester, grow larger, and become more vicious. As followers of Jesus, we don't want to act rashly on our anger, do something foolish, and destroy relationships. [1] We shouldn't "binge and purge" all of our pent-up furies any time we are angry. However, Paul uses today's relationship verse to address the opposite approach to anger: "stuffing and holding" our anger. When we stuff and hide our anger, we can temporarily feel like we are in control of it until the internal fury reaches the point that we explode with rage, spewing our pent-up vitriol on anyone nearby.

As Jesus' followers, we must not allow our anger to "fly off the handle." We don't want our anger burst into an immediate rage firestorm of rage released against another person. [2] We can be self-controlled. We can refuse to do and say hurtful things that we will later regret. But if we control our immediate response, how do we handle our anger before the sun goes down?

While there are many practical spiritual strategies to deal with this internal rage, a good first step would be to see a spiritual friend, counselor, or pastor. Another would be to look for biblical strategies from reputable online spiritual resources. However, before we start looking for "outside" solutions, we need to remember the context in which Paul shared his warning and put into place some spiritual practices to deal with our anger:

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God — truly righteous and holy. [3]

Key to gaining self-control is remembering Whose we are and who He is re-creating us to be through the power of the Holy Spirit. God redeemed us at a great price. [4] He loved us when we were undeserving of His love. [5] and He now asks us to treat others graciously and respectfully to open the door to their hearts to find Jesus's grace. [6]

Pausing long enough to slow down and pray can slow down our anger response and help us remember Whose we are. Here are some things we can do as we pause and pray:

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help us handle our anger.
  • Remember we represent Jesus to the other person.
  • Acknowledge that God treated us with mercy and grace when we were unworthy.

After the initial flush of anger has faded, we can invest some time in prayer and the Scriptures asking for the Holy Spirit's help to handle our next steps in dealing with our issues with the person involved.

[1] Colossians 3:8; James 1:19-21; Matthew 5:21-22; Romans 2:5-11; Galatians 5:19-21.
[2] Matthew 5:20-26.
[3] Ephesians 4:20-24.
[4] 1 Corinthians 6:20; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 1:18.
[5] Romans 5:5-11.
[6] Colossians 4:5-6; 1 Peter 3:13-17.

Today's Prayer

Father, please help me acknowledge my internal anger as I work with the Holy Spirit to grow in my self-control and shape my relationships with others to reflect the character, compassion, and faithfulness of Jesus. In His name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • James 1:16-25
  • Matthew 5:21-26, 38-48

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Illustration

Illustration of Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT — 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.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.