Best of Daily Reflections: How to Be Angry #1

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Best of Daily Reflections: How to Be Angry #1

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.

Ephesians 4:26-27

There are more than a million words in the English language, but most of us only use a fraction  of them. Maybe you’ve noticed how certain words trend in and out of favor — words like “outrage.” These days, people aren’t merely bothered or upset about something, they are outraged. One dictionary defines “outrage” as “shockingly bad” or “excessive.” Outrage is anger on steroids.

The Apostle Paul warned,

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.

A while back, I was having my teeth cleaned. I’m tall and the dental hygienist was a tiny woman. In order to do her work, she had to tilt the dental chair to a position where my feet were above my head. This made it really hard to swallow because the water was constantly flowing down my throat. For most of the cleaning, I thought I might drown because my head was in the wrong place. It’s like that with anger. Paul doesn’t forbid it, but he does warn against the kind that gets your head in the wrong place.                                                                                                                                        

A lot happens in life that can have that effect. There’s a lot to be angry about. Some things should make us angry — oppression, injustice, greed, prejudice. If nothing makes you angry, you’re not fully alive.

Anger can be useful, but it’s also dangerous. So Paul prescribes two forms of anger management. First,

do not let the sun go down on your anger,

Whether or not Paul meant this literally is hard to say, but his underlying meaning is clear. Sooner rather than later a person has to do the hard work of facing anger in a way that gives it a chance to be resolved.

Secondly, Paul issues a warning,

do not make room for the devil.

Unmanaged anger is the playground of the devil. Don’t give him that opening into your life.

But above all, ask God to grant you the wisdom to know when anger threatens to get your head in the wrong place.

Questions for Reflection:

How can you tell the difference between anger that gives life and anger that takes it? How do you manage your anger? What are some of your constructive ways of managing anger? A lot of anger comes from pain. In what areas of your life has pain had that effect on you?


Merciful God, I remember how angry it made Jesus to see how the temple had been turned into a marketplace. Teach me righteous anger, and guard me from anger that wounds others and corrupts my soul. Amen.


Ephesians 4:17-32

Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.