In your anger do not sin: Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. — Ephesians 4:26-27
Christian maturity involves a lot of things, but surely it includes knowing how to process your anger. In fact,
I believe there is no more dangerous emotion for a married couple to deal with than anger.
The apostle Paul did not teach that all anger is wrong, but that it’s what you do with your anger that counts. “In your anger,” writes Paul, “do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26).
You have probably heard these familiar words in more than one sermon. The question is, how can you use Paul’s instructions as you practice Love & Respect? Paul knew that to have real feelings is very human, but to let real feelings turn into hard feelings that rage on is childish and dangerous. When anger takes control, the Devil is ready to move in and put you on the Crazy Cycle.
Satan loves the Crazy Cycle; it is his favorite mode of transportation and he wants to ride it with you! The Devil is always scheming, and one of his favorite targets is your marriage.
But there are ways to be awake and ready for Satan’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11–18). For example, have you ever realized after an angry exchange, That wasn’t me. What came over me? What came over you was the Devil. He did not possess you, but your anger gave him the opportunity to take advantage of you (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Try to remember that during marital tension, you can easily slip into what I call “default mode,” behaving in a way that reflects the human tendency to react more readily in a sinful way than a holy way. If not careful, you will follow your subjective and sinful feelings and justify these feelings because they are “so real.” If you feel frustrated, you can default into sinful anger. If you feel hurt, you can default into retaliation. If you wish to “make a firm point,” you can default into making a cutting remark. Justifying such feelings by calling them “righteous indignation” does not impress the Lord. What does the Bible say? “Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight” (James 1:20).
Insight: When anger is in control, sin and the Devil can have a field day.
Bottom line: when you default into “just being human” and feed your carnal nature, you give the Devil a foothold he wouldn’t have had if you had controlled your anger. But you don’t have to default; you can defeat the Devil’s schemes by calling on God for help. Yes, you may have real feelings of frustration toward your mate, but you know that doesn’t justify losing it emotionally or saying nasty things. Yes, you may be angry, but you choose not to sin. You have real feelings of hurt from the misunderstanding, but you know it is an honest misunderstanding, and you decide to pull back, count to ten, and give yourself time to cool off. One approach you might want to try is reading Proverbs 14:29 out loud three times (or ten, if necessary): “People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness”.
Prayer: Ask the Lord for the wisdom to defeat Satan, the schemer who intends to gain a foothold in your marriage through sinful anger. Thank Him for any progress you have made in controlling anger and not letting real feelings turn into hard feelings.
Action: When I realize I’m getting angry, I will tell myself, I will not let the sun go down on my anger. Before I put my head on the pillow, my anger will be gone.
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- “I believe there is no more dangerous emotion for a married couple to deal with than anger.” Do you both agree? What other emotions are hard for you to deal with?
- When marital tension cranks up and frustration is turning to anger, why is slipping into “default mode” a real possibility? How much does rationalization have to do with allowing yourself to slip into default mode? What does James 1:20 have to say about rationalizing angry language and behavior?
- What do you think of Emerson’s idea to repeat Proverbs 14:29 three times as a way to control angry feelings? Could this work for you? Are you willing to try it?
What about you? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment on our blog. ~ Devotionals Daily