"Be angry, yet do not sin." Do not let the sun set upon your anger,
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.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.I. A GENERAL PRINCIPLE. It must keep clear of sin "be ye angry, and sin not."
1. Unjust anger is clearly wrong.
2. Excessive anger comes under the same condemnation.
3. Personal anger is scarcely ever without sin; yet this is the character of the greater number of cases. We are angry with the person, rather than with his misconduct.
4. Selfish anger may always be suspected of sin.
II. A SPECIAL RULE. "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath."
III. AN AWFUL MOTIVE. "Neither give place to the devil." There are two characters which the devil sustains towards us: he is our accuser, and our tempter. In both these characters he gains an advantage over us by means of sinful anger.
1. It furnishes him with a charge against us. Dream not that angry words are mere idle breath: "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
2. It assists his temptations of us. Everyone must know what a pitiable creature he is, who gives way to unbridled anger. Only work on his passion, and you may make him believe anything — say anything — do anything. And the man unconsciously "gives place" to his enemy. While proudly resolving not to give way to a fellow creature, whose ill-will could do him little injury, and might have been disarmed by gentleness or yielding: he throws himself into the arms of one who seizes the occasion for promoting the destruction of both body and soul in hell.
(J. Jowett, M. A.)I. ANGER KEPT WITHIN ITS DUE BOUNDS. I shall consider this as in holy anger. And there is in it —
1. A commotion of the spirit, which ariseth from the apprehension of a real injury; for if it be only imaginary it is sinful. This is necessary to stir up a man's desire to see the wrong rectified.
2. There is hatred in it, not at the persons but at their sins, whether they be our own sins or others. In this respect it is called "indignation" (2 Corinthians 7:11). This is most desirable, when it is kept purely on this object. That is not the part where we are in hazard of excess, seeing we are commanded to abhor that which is evil.
3. There is grief in it (Mark 3:5). This naturally follows on hatred of the thing, which likewise ariseth from a just apprehension of the evil of it in a gracious soul. And from both ariseth —
4. A desire of the vindication of the right and honour of the party injured.
II. SINFUL ANGER CONDEMNED. We are to consider it in its rise, and the passion transgressing due bounds, which makes it sinful, however short, while it lasts. Now, for clearing of what this sinful anger is, we must consider the due boundary of holy and just anger, and what is beyond these is sinful.
1. The grounds of holy anger are just and weighty, such as God's dishonour by our own sins, and the sins of others (2 Corinthians 7:11; Exodus 22:9). It must, then, be sinful anger, when it is without a just ground.
2. The degree of holy anger is proportioned to the fault. When the anger, then, in respect of degrees, exceeds the measure of the offence, and men are carried so far beside themselves, as to turn about the cart wheel on the cummin that might be beat out with the rod, then it is sinful anger.
3. The end of holy anger which it is directed, is the glory of God and the good of our neighbour (Proverbs 13:24; John 2:16, 17). Sinful, then, it must be, when it is a fire lighting on others, to make them sacrifices to cursed self, to satisfy the desires of a proud heart (Proverbs 27:25), which will never think it gets enough from others.
4. The effects of holy anger, directly and indirectly, are just and good, for the man has rule over his own spirit, and no holy affection is inconsistent with another. It fits him for his duty to God and men, as may be seen in the case of Moses praying for the people (Exodus
3. The anger, then, must be sinful when its effects are hellish, as when it breaks out in clamour and evil speaking (Ephesians 4:31).
III. THE REASON WHY THE SINFUL PASSION IS CONDEMNED. "Neither give place to the devil." That is, and give not place to the devil. It refers —
1. To the rise of sinful anger. To give place to it is to admit the devil.
2. It refers to the progress and continuance of it. The more it is harboured, the devil is the farther admitted. He loves to fish in muddy water. When he has got the fire kindled, he employs his bellows to blow it up, and always to make the flame greater and greater, to the destruction of ourselves and others.Doctrine
I. Men not only may, but ought to be angry where there is just ground for it. We know no just ground for anger but the things which are sinful. Reasons.
1. Because in that case, the love and respect which we owe to God, who is dishonoured, require it.
2. The love which we owe to ourselves or others who are injured, requires it.Doctrine
II. Men should beware that the fire of sinful auger kindle not in their breasts. Reasons.
1. Because it is evil in itself, and dishonourable to God; being the vomit of a proud heart and an unmeekened spirit.
2. Because it is not only evil, but a mother of evil; and is not only an inlet to many mischiefs to ourselves and others, put drives men to them to act with vigour. An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.Doctrine
III. If sinful anger do enter our breasts, we must endeavour to extinguish it quickly, and beware of nourishing it.Doctrine
IV. That the admitting and lodging of sinful anger in our hearts is a giving place to the devil. For remedies —
1. Let us consider our own vileness and unworthiness, and how often we are provoking the Lord, and so turn our anger against ourselves.
2. Let us consider these things with which we are so ready to be hurried away, are the trials of our patience, and we are on our trial for heaven.
3. Let us propose to ourselves the example of the meek and lowly Jesus. "He suffered, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps." Lastly — Out of a sense of our utter inability to resist the least temptation, look to Jesus for strength, and by faith draw strength from Him.
(T. Boston, D. D.)I. SOME RULES TO DISTINGUISH THE NATURE AND THE DEGREE OF ANGER WHEN IT BECOMES CRIMINAL.
1. Man having been created susceptible of anger, to enable him to repel with courage the evil which encompasses, or to surmount with activity the calamity which threatens him, it is evident that whoever unnecessarily provokes him is to a certain degree culpable.
2. Since every impulse should be proportionate to the power of the motives which produce it, it is no less evident that all anger, and every emotion carried to excess — that is, which exceed the bounds prescribed by reason, are criminal.
3. It will also be hateful in the sight of God, when through indulgence it degenerates into hatred or malice, into resentment or a desire of revenge.
4. Anger becomes a sin of more aggravated nature, when by continual indulgence it resumes, as it were, a constitutional property.
5. Anger is always criminal, when, either in its nature or attendant circumstances, it, in any manner, is injurious to reason and religion, or involves, in its consequences, either ourselves or other men in trouble.
II. I now proceed, under the second head, to propose SOME CONSIDERATIONS TO ENGAGE YOU TO REGULATE THIS PASSION.
1. Nothing is more indecent, disgraceful, and contemptible than the character of a passionate and violent man. Rage always supposes weakness; hence children, sick people, and women, are the most subject to it.
2. blot only is the anger of which I am speaking contemptible, odious, and criminal in itself, but it is also melancholy and criminal in its effects and consequences. A man, by frequent transports of rage, impairs his health. Add to this, that a man who is master of himself has, in all circumstances of life, an infinite advantage over a violent person. At every turn he gives some advantage to his adversary.
3. Besides, a man of an outrageous temper is almost always unhappy; he is always exposed to chagrin, occasioned by his own irritability. Rage is to the soul what fever is to the body: as a fever throws the whole animal economy into disorder, rage, in like manner, so agitates the soul as to bereave it of peace.
(P. Bertrand.)I. WHAT IS THE SORT OF ANGER HERE ALLOWED OR ENJOINED? Evidently it must be anger of such a sort as shall be in keeping and in harmony with the sphere in which it works, viz., the sphere of the truth as it is in Jesus, in contrast to the deceit or lie of which the devil is the father. The anger of the new man is, in one word, sympathy with God; intelligent, confiding, loving sympathy with God.
II. WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS ANNEXED TO THE ALLOWANCE OR INJUNCTION?
1. It must be sinless. Remember that anger too readily allies itself to that self-love in you which is the real root and ground, the source and spring, of the anger of the old man, which is altogether sinful, and of whatever is sinful in the anger of the new man. God's anger, on the contrary, is absolutely holy. For He is never angry on His own account, or for injury done to Him. What makes Him angry, however it may be opposed to His nature and will, does not really touch His essential glory and blessedness.
2. It must be short. If a moment suffice for the anger of God, surely a day may be more than enough for yours. If His righteous and holy wrath endureth but for a moment, yours may well subside ere sundown.
(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)
I. IF WE GIVE WAY TO ANGER, IT WILL INTERFERE WITH OUR COMFORT. An angry man can never feel comfortable. Anger in our hearts or minds is just like a storm at sea. That storm, while it lasts, disturbs everything. As long as that storm continues it interferes, most seriously, with the comfort of all on board the vessel, which is exposed to it. Most of the passengers will be made seasick, and be obliged to go to bed, and their comfort will be wonderfully interfered with while that storm lasts. And just as a storm at sea acts on a vessel that is exposed to it, so anger acts on the soul where its influence is felt. It upsets and disturbs all our thoughts and feelings, and interferes entirely with our comfort.
II. THE SECOND REASON FOR MINDING THIS WARNING AGAINST ANGER IS BECAUSE IT WILL INTERFERE WITH OUR DUTY. Suppose I should wake up some morning, and on looking at my watch to see what time it was, should find that it had stopped, and was keeping time no longer. The mainspring is not broken. It was not run down, for I wound it up last night before I went to bed. But still the watch has stopped. It will not keep time. I cannot tell what is the matter with it. After breakfast I take it to the watchmaker, and ask him to examine it, and find out what the trouble is. He opens the watch, and putting on one of his magnifying glasses, he looks carefully into it. Presently he lays it down, and says, "I see what the trouble is. A little grain of sand has got in among the works, some how or other, and that interferes with the working of the watch and makes it stop." Then he goes to work and removes that grain of sand, and after this is done the watch goes on keeping time as usual. Now, our souls are like watches in some respects. Our thoughts, and feelings, and desires are very much like the wheels, or works of a watch. While our feelings and tempers are all right, the wheels will go on, and the watch will keep good time. But, if we give way to a wrong feeling or temper, like anger, it will be like the grain of sand in the works of the watch. It will stop them from going on, and the watch will not be able to keep time. When George IV was King of England he desired one day to receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and he sent for the Bishop of Winchester to come and administer it to him. The messenger who was sent on this errand was very slow in his movements, and loitered along the way. This caused a long delay before the arrival of the bishop, and the king got very impatient about it. When the bishop came he stated that he started immediately on getting the message, but that the servant had been very slow in coming to him. This made the king angry. He rang the bell and called for the messenger. When he entered the room the king reproved him very sharply, dismissed him from his service, and told him to leave the palace at once. As soon as he was gone the king turned to the bishop, and said, "Now, my lord, we will go on with our service." But the bishop, with great mildness, and yet very firmly, said, "Please your majesty, I cannot do that. The temper just displayed is not a fit preparation for this solemn service." The king saw that he had done wrong, and made a suitable apology to the bishop. Then he sent for his servant, asked his pardon for speaking so angrily to him, and told him, in the pleasantest possible way, that he should keep his position in the king's employ.
III. AND THE THIRD REASON FOR MINDING THIS WARNING AGAINST ANGER IS, THAT IT WILL INTERFERE WITH OUR SAFETY. If we do what we know is wrong; if we let the sun go down upon our wrath, and give way to anger, then we are doing that which will interfere with our safety. Our shield and armour will be taken away, and we shall be exposed to all sorts of dangers.
(Bp. Jeremy Taylor.)
(Pope.)To be angry about trifles is mean and childish; to rage and be furious is brutish; and to maintain perpetual wrath is akin to the practice and temper of devils; but to prevent and suppress rising resentment is wise and glorious, is manly and Divine.
(Bp. Jeremy Taylor.)
(Cawdray.)A mad dog that bites another makes him as mad as himself; so, usually the injuries and reproaches of others foster up our revenge, and then there is no difference between us.
(T. Manton, D. D.)
1. Because twelve hours is long enough to be cross about any wrong inflicted upon us. Nothing is so exhausting to physical health or mental faculty as a protracted indulgence of ill-humour. It racks the nervous system. It hurts the digestion. It heats the blood in brain and heart until the whole body is first overheated and then depressed. Besides that, it sours the disposition, turns one aside from his legitimate work, expends energies that ought to be better employed, and does us more harm than it does our antagonist. Paul gives us good, wide allowance of time for legitimate denunciation, from six o'clock to six o'clock, but says: "Stop there!" Watch the descending orb of day, and when it reaches the horizon, take a reef in your disposition. Unloose your collar and cool off. Change the subject to something delightfully pleasant. Aye, you will not postpone till sundown forgiveness of enemies if you can realize that their behaviour towards you may be put into the catalogue of the "all things" that "work together for good to those that love God." Suppose, instead of waiting until this evening, when the sun will set, you transact this glorious work of forgiveness before meridian.
2. We ought not to let the sun go down on our wrath, because we will sleep better if we are at peace with everybody. Insomnia is getting to be one of the most prevalent of disorders. To relieve this disorder all narcotics, and sedatives, and chloral, and bromide of potassium, and cocaine and intoxicants are used, but nothing is more important than a quiet spirit if we would win somnolence. How is a man going to sleep when he is in mind pursuing an enemy? Why not put a boundary to your animosity? Why let your foes come into the sanctities of your dormitory? Why let those slanderers who have already torn your reputation to pieces or injured your business, bend over your midnight pillow and drive from you one of the greatest blessings that God can offer — sweet, refreshing, all-invigorating sleep. Why not fence out your enemies by the golden bars of the sunset?
3. We ought not to allow the sun to set before forgiveness takes place, because we might not live to see another day. The majority of people depart this life in the night. Between eleven o'clock p.m. and three o'clock a.m. there is something in the atmosphere which relaxes the grip which the body has on the soul, and most people enter the next world through the shadows of this world. Perhaps God may have arranged it in that way, so as to make the contrast the more glorious. I have seen sunshiny days in this world that must have been almost like the radiance of heaven. Shall we then leap over the roseate bank of sunset into the favourite hunting ground of disease and death, carrying our animosities with us?
4. We ought not to allow the passage of the sunset hour before the dismissal of all our affronts, because we may associate the sublimest action of the soul with the sublimest spectacle in nature. It is a most delightful thing to have our personal experiences allied with certain subjects. There is a tree or river bank where God first answered your prayer. Some of you have pleasant memories connected with the evening star, or the moon in its first quarter, or with the sunrise. Because you saw it just as you were arriving at harbour after a tempestuous voyage. Forever and forever. Oh, hearer, associate the sunset with your magnanimous, out-and-out, unlimited renunciation of all hatreds and forgiveness of all foes. I admit it; is the most difficult of all graces to practise, and at the start you may make a complete failure; but keep on in the attempt to practise it. Shakespeare wrote ten dramas before he reached "Hamlet," and seventeen before he reached the "Merchant of Venice," and twenty-eight before he reached "Macbeth." And gradually you will come from the easier graces to the most difficult. Besides that, it is not a matter of personal determination so much as the laying hold of the Almighty arm of God, who will help us to do anything we ought to do. Remember that in all personal controversies the one least to blame will have to take the first step at pacification, if it is ever effective. The contest between AEschines and his rival resounds through history, but his rival, who was least to blame, went to AEschines and said: "Shall we not agree to be friends before we make ourselves the laughing stock of the whole country?" And AEschines said: "Thou art a far better man than I, for I began the quarrel, but thou hast been the first in healing the breach," and they were always friends afterwards. So let the one of you that is least to blame take the first step towards conciliation. The one most in the wrong will never take it. We talk about the Italian sunsets, and sunset amid the Apennines, and sunset amid the Cordilleras, but I will tell you how you may see a grander sunset than any mere lover of nature ever beheld; that is, by flinging into it all your hatreds and animosities, and let the horses of fire trample them, and the chariots of fire roll over them, and the spearmen of fire stab them, and the beach of fire consume them, and the billows of fire overwhelm them.
5. We should not let the sun go down on our wrath, because it is of little importance what the world says of you or does to you when you have the affluent God of the sunset as your provider and defender. People talk as though it were a fixed spectacle of nature and always the same. But no one ever saw two sunsets alike, and if the world has existed six thousand years, there have been about two million one hundred and ninety thousand sunsets, each of them as distinct from all the other pictures in the gallery of the sky as Titian's "Last Supper," Rubens' "Descent from the Cross," Raphael's "Transfiguration," and Michael Angelo's "Last Judgment" are distinct from each other. If that God of such infinite resources that He can put on the wall of the sky each night more than the Louvre and the Luxembourg galleries all in one, is my God and your God, our Provider and Protector, what is the use of our worrying about any human antagonism? If we are misinterpreted, the God of the many coloured sunset can put the right colour on our action.
(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)
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