Anger and Choice
“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 a couple cannot go to bed until they work out any argument. Then you get reactions to the wrong teaching saying it’s okay to go to bed angry. I’ve seen some Christian sources say this, even though it is a direct contradiction to what Scripture says. I’m pretty sure when Paul said not to do it, what he really meant was – not to do it.
Let’s dig into this a bit. First, we need to understand Jews the new day 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’s not wrong, but it is an open door to all manner of wrong things, and it’s unhealthy for us and destructive to our relationships.
We should also understand anger and disagreement are different things. I can strongly disagree without being angry. What’s more, if I have anger initially, I can deal with my 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. Paul is not saying we must not let the sun set on disagreement, he’s talking about anger.
The other thing I see in this passage is Paul must see anger as a choice. Anger is a choice. No one makes you angry – they set up a situation where you can react in anger, but you choose your reaction. If anger is your go to reaction, it may become so automatic you don’t have to choose it. However, this only happens because you have chosen to make anger your normal response. It’ll take effort, but you can change it if you want to.
Initial reaction aside, we choose to stay angry or let it go. Paul wouldn’t have told us to let it go by the end of the day had God not made us able to do so. We’re told to dump our anger by the end of the day, and warned failing to do that opens us up for bad things.
The choice is yours.