“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” [Eph 4:26-27 ESV]
This verse has been misused by some to teach that a couple cannot go to bed until they work out any argument. Then you get reactions that saying it is okay to go to bed angry. I have seen some Christian sources say that, even though it is a direct contradiction to what Scripture says. I am pretty sure, when Paul said not to do it, what he really meant was – not to do it.
Let us dig into this a bit. First, we need to understand that for the Jews the new day started at sunset. So, what Paul was saying was to deal with your anger before the end of the day. Paul also tells us why we should deal with our anger day by day; as The Message puts it, “Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” Anger is not wrong, but it is an open door to all manner of things that are wrong as well as unhealthy for us and destructive to our relationships.
We should also understand that anger and disagreement are very different things. I can strongly disagree without anger. What is more, if I have anger initially, I can deal with that anger without coming to an agreement. In fact, dealing with my anger will make it far easier to resolve the difference that sparked the anger. So Paul is not saying we must not let the sun set on disagreement, he is talking about anger.
The other thing I see here is that Paul sees anger as a choice. Let me say that again anger is a choice. No one makes you angry – they set up a situation where you can react in anger, but you choose that reaction. If anger is your go to reaction, it may become so knee jerk that you do not have to choose it, but that only happens because you have chosen to make anger your normal response. It will take effort, but you can change that if you want to change it.
Initial reaction aside, we choose to stay angry or let it go. Paul would not have told us to let it go by the end of the day had God not made us able to do that. We are told to dump our anger by the end of the day, and warned that failing to do that opens us up for some bad things.
The choice is yours.