Waking with The Word | Ephesians 4:26-27
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. (KJV)
Continuing with these list of practical instructions Paul gave to the Ephesian believers and our selves, we've come to a very popular set of verses. Instruction that is very easily quoted but much less easy to carry out. This list reminds me of the Book of Proverbs in the way it is written, Paul takes a break from his extremely long and complex sentences and thoughts to a list of short sentences. Anger and sin are so often coupled together that we usually associate one with the other without thought, but this is a mistake. Anger in and of its self is not a sin. God is angry with the wicked everyday, Christ was angry when He seen God's temple turned into a den of thieves and there are times when anger has its rightful place. Anger is a negative emotion but it doesn't always have a negative outcome. If our anger is kindled toward the right things it can have a positive effect, only that most often we are angry for the wrong reasons. Anger is like fire and a fire's profitability is measured by what it was that was consumed by the fire. If a fire burns down someone's house it was a terrible tragedy, but if a fire burns off the old undergrowth of a plot of land we would consider it a great thing. The fire burned out all the weeds and thistles that were stealing the nutrients from the trees of the forest and the ash fertilizes the soil. In the same way our anger can be profitable or destructive. It matters very much what we are angry about. Are you angry about the sins that are currently destroying our nation? Are you angry about the sins that have crept into our churches? Are you angry about the sin in your own life? This anger will do us well, it burns in us the same way a fire burns in the heart of the old coal locomotive's, the fire burned hot and produced a productive energy to a productive end. Or, are you angry at your co-worker because he got the raise before you? Are you angry at your neighbor because of a cross word he spoke to you? Are you angry at your spouse because they didn't serve you in the manner you thought appropriate? This sort of anger burns in us like a secret flame caused by an electrical short in the basement of a building, sparking and smoldering until it releases its destructive power all at once. If we're not careful even the good sort of anger can get out of control; I'm angry at the abortionist but for me to take their life would be to commit the very sin that I am angry at them about. Anger must be manage the same as a fire, if left unchecked and unkept even a productive fire can get out of control, which brings us to Paul second layer of instruction:
"let not the sun go down upon your wrath"
Paul puts us in mind not to let our wrath smolder for even one day. We wouldn't go to sleep with a raging fire in the yard; Before the night was over that fire would engulf the house. And neither should we rest until we have put out the fires of wrath in our life. Wrath is what comes along with anger, it is the destruction we see play out, whether it was a productive destruction or not, we should be sure that the fires of wrath have all been stomped out and wetted down before we rest. If the fires of anger lead you to discipline some area of your child's life that's good, the thing that was destroyed needed to be, but be sure that the passionate fires of anger and wrath are put out before you go to bed. Be sure that you put your arms around them and that the fires of anger are quenched before that also burn up something you didn't mean to destroy. Love covers a multitude of sin and it will quench the fires of anger and wrath. We used to burn off our property in Alabama, we would travel the perimeter of the property with water tanks to be sure the fire only burned what needed burning. We would also start a lot of small fires and as the smalls fires met one another they would go out, this was to ensure that our fire remained small and profitable and not large and destructive, and we knew that if the fires weren't out by nightfall that we would be working into the night to be sure that all of the fires were out or we would wake up to a fire on the doorstep of our house. Keep the fires of anger under control, that is the only way they will be profitable; The second they get out of control they are no longer profitable but destructive.
"Neither give place to the devil."
The devil would love nothing more than to find some smoldering embers of a fire in your heart that he can fan into a raging inferno that would destroy everything in it's path. If we let these embers smolder for days and weeks and months you can be sure the first opportunity that the devil has he will throw wood on that fire and begin to blow and fan that flame until it has consumed your every thought. It was my duty as a boy to keep the fire burning at home, in the cold winter months there would be entire months when the fire wouldn't go out in our fire place. In the morning when I would wake up it would look like the fire had went out completely, there would be a pile of what looked like lifeless ashes where a fire had once been, this wasn't at all the case. Experience had taught me that just below the surface of the cold grey ashes was a pile of hot embers that only needed a little wood and few hard blows and the fire that had went completely out was back as bright and hot as it had ever been. Thousands of years of experience has taught the devil and his demonic arsonist to know when there is still embers of anger and wrath ready to be fanned into a flame of destruction. Before you go to bed tonight make sure the fires are out and the hatchet is buried. Is there fire of trouble burning between you and a child, a spouse, a brother? Maybe the fire started out in righteousness but has now shifted to something unprofitable and destructive. "Where there is no wood the fire goeth out." Take away the wood and fire will go out, throw the waters of apology on those fires and they will be sure to go out. Be angry and sin not.
According to the Riches of His Grace!