Ephesians 4:26, 27
Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath:
The apostle teaches that we are not to allow the irritations or exasperations of life to become the occasion of sin, that we are not to cherish anger, and that we are not to give scope to Satan by temper which may open the heart to those passions of hatred and revenge that are identified with his operations. The passage teaches -
I. TEXT THERE IS AN ANGER THAT IS NOT SINFUL. This affection is, indeed, implanted in our nature for righteous ends. It arms the passions quickly against evil, and operates with the force and effectiveness of an instinct. If it is mingled with malice, it becomes sinful; but if it is associated with a holy disposition, it is safe and good. Jesus regarded the conduct of the Jews "with anger" (Mark 3:5). Anger is often attributed to God himself (Psalm 7:11), but it can have no sinful elements in the Divine mind. It is, in fact, with anger as it is with hatred. It is a shallow prejudice to shrink from the name and the thing which it signifies, as if it were all and only evil. Jesus hated as well as loved. The two emotions hang for their life upon each other. Love cannot be unless a hearty hate of evil lie beneath. They are but the two sides of one sublime emotion which turns life, so often insipid and dull, into a vivid, balanced, and joyful activity. So it is with anger. Under the inspiration of a holy nature, it may flash forth with a marvelous power against wickedness, untruth, and dishonor.
II. THAT THERE IS AN EASY PASSAGE FROM WHAT IS RIGHT TO WHAT IS WRONG IN THE INDULGENCE OF ANGER. "Be ye angry and sin not." This command implies that it is an easy matter to sin in our anger, and a hard thing to be angry and not to sin. The path of duty affords firm footing to those who keep it; but it is very narrow, and there are dangerous pitfalls on either side. Anger is, therefore, not an operation to be rashly or lightly performed, even when it is a very evil thing against which our displeasure is directed. If it comes often and comes easily, you may suspect the danger that lurks in it. Take care, above all things, that the zeal for righteousness may not plunge you into hatred of your neighbors. "If a glass bottle be full of clean water, though it be stirred there ariseth no mud; but if mud arise when it is stirred, the water was foul in the bottom: so is the spirit of a man foul within that, being stirred, showeth distemper." "Be angry and sin not." You cannot be angry and suffer not. Just as a cannon when discharged recoils heated and begrimed within by the fiery blast that issued from its mouth, the spirit of man is similarly affected even by those discharges of anger that are directed against the most wicked deeds.
III. THAT IT IS HARD TO AVOID SIN IN OUR ANGER IF WE INDULGE IT FOR AN UNDUE LENGTH OF TIME. "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Anger may flash suddenly out from the lips of a good man, but "it resteth in the bosom of fools" (Ecclesiastes 7:9). There is a limit even to righteous anger; not that we are not to have a continual anger against sin; but we are not to carry our anger against a brother into the next day. We are not to harbor resentment or keep it rankling in our bosom, lest it should change into downright hatred or revenge.
IV. THAT SATAN TAKES ADVANTAGE OF OUR ANGER TO DO US GREAT HURT. There is an old Latin proverb, "He who goes angry to bed has the devil for a bedfellow." Anger, if cherished, supplies a motive to yield to his evil suggestions. The devil is in full sympathy with a resentful spirit. Yet, though he wields the resources of this world as its god; though he is incarnate in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life; he has no power to enter any heart except with the will of its owner. Let not Christians, then, allow that heart, which is the temple of the Holy Ghost, to be opened, in a moment of holy anger, to the intrusive suggestions of the evil one. The counsel of the apostle is well calculated to promote the comfort and the usefulness of life. Let Christians take care that their anger is not without cause, or without measure, or without justice, and that it should not be so inconsistent with love that we cannot pray for those against whom it is directed. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: