Even when we prepare our hearts in advance like we discussed yesterday, there will be times when we reach the end of the day and we just can’t shake how hurt we are.
In the past, this is when I would turn to and, unfortunately, misuse Ephesians 4:26-27. It was so convenient to pull that passage out when someone wanted to go to bed and I still wanted to talk about whatever was causing a conflict.
“Oh no, you can’t call timeout right now. We have to keep talking because the Bible clearly says, ‘do not let the sun go down on your anger.’”
But I noticed recently the first three words say, “in your anger.” So, it isn’t about resolving all relational issues before 9:00 p.m. It’s talking about my anger, not our frustration.
It’s like the writer of Ephesians, Paul, is saying “You’ve got to deal with this anger. Don’t lay in your bed and let it consume your mind. If it does, it will come out of your mouth and reveal who or what is mastering you.”
When I looked for the very first time “anger” is mentioned in the Bible, I found myself in Genesis 4:2-8 where we encounter the first relational conflict in Scripture in the story of Cain and Abel.
I’ve known the story of these two brothers for years, but I missed a really important detail. In between Cain getting angry about God not accepting his offering and killing his brother, the Lord came and talked with him. The Lord, Himself, said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)
And suddenly it’s not so much a story about Cain and Abel; God is speaking to me. He’s showing me that what I let consume my mind, makes it way out through my mouth, revealing the real source of what’s driving my decisions.
Here’s where we see this in the story of Cain and Abel:
- Mind: Cain refused to humble himself and allowed this anger to fester inside him.
- Mouth: Cain was not willing to let forgiveness spill from his lips.
- What ruled him: The sin that was crouching at his door deeply ruled over him, so much that he killed his brother. He gave his feelings the right to dictate his actions, even after God came and talked with him.
What a powerful reminder to not let anger and frustration run rampant through my thoughts.
It’s hard when the hurt is so fresh or the frustration is so ongoing. But isn’t God so gracious that He gives us these verses in Ephesians and ties this lesson to something we get to see every night? As the sun is going down, we can remember it’s time to pause and let God tend to any strong or potentially damaging reactions to hurts that could consume us.
We can pray, “Father I need Your forgiveness to flow to me and through me right now so Your Spirit can work in me and sweep my heart clean.” This doesn’t make light of or deny our hurt; it puts it in the hands of God so He can help us better process it.
While most people would never go as far as Cain did, what could be some of the devastating outcomes of refusing to allow God to address our feelings of anger and unforgiveness? What are some healthy ways you can process the strong emotions that get stirred up when you’re hurt?