And “don’t sin by letting your anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesian 4:26 New Living Translation)
When I was younger, I recall my grandmother always telling my siblings and I, right before we went to bed, not to let the sun go down while we were angry. As a child, I didn’t realize she was trying to teach us something; I assumed it was part of her evening prayers.
Of course, her words remained in my heart for years, even today. I can still clearly recall a day when my late husband became quite angry at me. He was a law student who didn’t believe in tardiness. On the other hand, I was and still am notorious for being late. I won’t bore you with a long story, so I will give you the gist.
We were supposed to meet for a quick lunch during his 30-minute break. I was studying for an exam and didn’t realize the passing of time. I had only 15 minutes left to meet my husband. I hurried to get us lunch. Unfortunately, the line was very long, and by the time I arrived at the school, his 30-minute break was over. I was 45 minutes late. He was so angry that he threw the lunch tray at me and walked away; he left me in the cafeteria, literally covered in food.
So why am I sharing this story with you? Although I didn’t understand why he was so angry at the time, I remembered my grandmother’s words. When he arrived home, I apologized for being late and told him we should not let the sun go down while we were still upset. At the time, he wasn’t a Christian, so he couldn’t understand the importance of not letting the sun go down in our anger. His anger and disappointment persisted for a while as a result. But I didn’t give up. I continued to pray and made an effort to clear up the misunderstanding. It took a long time before my husband understood the importance of forgiveness and learned to let go of things. But only Jesus was able to change him, and He did.
My emotions were all over the place today. My heart was filled with anger and unforgiveness towards a family member. I spent the entire day feeling like a volcano, ready to erupt.
As I was prepared to go to bed and read Ephesians 4:26, the Lord reminded me of my grandmother’s words, “And “don’t sin by letting your anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.”
Anger is like poison. You can’t shake it off no matter what you try to do; it consumes you from the inside out. Two things occur when we don’t know how to control our anger. According to the devotional Forgiven- Freedom from Your Past, Faith for Your Future- 90 Days,
- “You stay angry. You walk around with your thermostat at boiling point.
- You don’t get angry even when it’s appropriate. Consequently, issues that could build character create indecision and indifference.” (P.22)
We must be able to express our anger properly. In Matthew 18:15, Jesus taught us how to handle our anger,
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.”
The truth is that God gave us the emotion of anger, but when that feeling controls us and leads to sin, it destroys us and those around us. This is not from God.
In Ephesians 4:27, Paul says, “And do not give the devil a foothold.” We are unable to think clearly when we allow anger to control us. Our mind starts coming up with reasons why we should be angry with that person. Unfortunately, sometimes—or perhaps most of the time—instead of confronting the person who has offended us, we lash out and vent our frustrations on people who have nothing to do with the turmoil we are experiencing.
I shared my anger and unforgiveness with a dear friend, the leader of my Bible study group, Ann Knopp. She told me, “When Jesus said that we are to forgive seventy times seventy, He meant that forgiveness is a continuous process. We are to forgive the person, give it to God as many times as we need, and move on. And every time the enemy brings the hurt back, forgive again and give it to God. It’s not that we forget the wrongdoing; it’s that the event that caused the anger won’t hold the same feelings. You may look at that person, and the event will just be a sad memory. The emotion of anger will no longer be connected. It will still be remembered because we aren’t God and don’t have a personal sea of forgetfulness. (A. Knopp, August 21, 2023)
Friends, I don’t know if you can relate, but know that Jesus knew we would experience anger and challenging situations that would bring out the worst in us. But with His help, we can find freedom from anger and forgiveness. I’m not there yet; I’m still a work in progress. I know I cannot do this alone; only through Jesus can I accomplish it. Jesus gives me the strength and the courage to face anything. I need to focus on Him, and He will show me the way. He died to set me and you free. The work has already been done—we only need to accept it and let Him lead us.
Lord, Jesus, thank You for going into the future and seeing all my sins, anger, unforgiveness, and who I would be without You. Thank You for dying for me despite all my sins and returning to the past to rescue me from death. Help me to love others as You love me. Please help me to forgive others as You have ignored all my debts. Lord, You know I can’t do that without You. Lead me through the right path and complete the work You began in me. I love You! In Your name, I give You praise, Amen!
Knopp, Ann L, author of “Pursue Jesus, Obey Jesus, Live Jesus.
Forgiven: Freedom from Your Past, Faith for Your Future. (2022). Roswell, GA: Celebration Enterprises, Inc. 2022.
The Holy Bible, New Living Translation. (1996). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Foundation.