26Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27
So angry. Seething. When the sun goes down on our anger, the mind races to create stories justifying our wrath. The mind creates an enemy not just out of the offending people or group, but out of you. An enemy is one we think the world could do without. In other words, an enemy is one who believes the world would be better if this person was gone, removed, and dead to us. After dark, anger can turn us into the enemy willing and capable of harm. Oh, we might not kill the person, but we can act badly — lashing out later or turning on a cold hearted and deathly silence.
Such mental work is poison to our souls and for our relationships. The Gospel of Jesus compels us to take these matters of anger seriously. We must begin to see anger as an important emotion, signalling that something is wrong either in the world or in us… or in both.
Paul connects “going to bed with anger at play in our heart and mind” as the Devil’s playground. Anger gives the Devil an opportunity.
So you are angry. A work of prayer is required. A work of reconciliation is required too. You must make an intentional decision to keep the offence and problem that stimulated your anger in the light of the Son of God and not in the heart of darkness.
1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 2The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. 3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. 4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. Proverbs 15:1-4
If you are yelling, you are probably not listening. And the other person isn’t able to listen either. If you are party to such I must commend to you wisdom that roots out the anxiety, folly, and perverseness.
The mouth of the wise contrasted with the mouth of a fool:
Soft answers – Harsh words
Knowledge – Folly
Gentle tongue brings life – Perverseness breaks the spirit
In the middle of the short discourse on speech and conflict the teacher commends awareness of God: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
It reminds me of Paul’s pursuit of the Lord’s peace for a conflict among two leaders in the church of Philippi:
5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So next time in the midst of conflict remember: Jesus is here; anxiety ramps up irrationality disturbing the heart and mind; seek God and speak softly.