'Be angry,' so maybe it’s not talking about wrong anger, but righteous anger."
You are right in noticing that there are differences
between dealing with a personal offense and "righteous anger."
However, with both kinds of anger,
I do not think we should “act on our anger promptly” but we should “deal with” our anger.
To illustrate this, let’s consider the dangers in both “acting on” our anger and “getting over” our anger.
Although “dealing with” anger could be considered one way of acting on it,
the term “acting on” anger sounds scary to me.
It feels like we’re reacting to something, allowing our anger to control us and our actions.
Anger is a very powerful, fast-moving emotion.
Acting quickly on an angry impulse almost always causes problems rather than solving them
and can easily lead to sin.
Therefore the warning, “Be angry and sin not.”
Because of this danger,
Christians often feel (or are taught) that becoming angry is in itself sinful.
This belief often leads those who want most to please God to deny of their anger.
“I’m not angry” is a common phrase among us.
But denial, sometimes called repression,
is not “dealing with” anger but is one way of refusing to deal with it.
We convince ourselves that our anger is not, and has never been, there,
often by giving it a different, less offensive name.
Another common response, along with repression, is to “get over anger quickly.”
Look at the words to get a picture of what this means.
We step over it and go on, leaving it behind us, refusing to look back.
This seems to be a good thing to do.
This way, we hope to escape our shame over becoming angry
and our fears of what it may cause us to do.
Sometimes we even label it as forgiveness.
By closing our anger off from our minds, we hope to escape its influence.
But suppressing anger, refusing to think about it, is not “dealing with” our anger.
Psychologists are quick to warn
that both repression and suppression of anger only drives it underground
where it is manifests in our bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits
in ways that are difficult for us to recognize.
When the Bible says, “Let not the sun go down on your anger,”
I think it is telling us to deal with it quickly.
Dealing with anger is an active process
in which the angry person has hard work to do.
It is quite easy to let our anger control us.
While we are releasing our anger,
we might feel a sense of relief or power,
but really we are being swept along, at the mercy of our rage.
Denial and suppression are also much easier
than the challenging job of thinking about what has happened and why we feel the way we do.
It takes courage and determination to deal with anger.
But that will take a bit more discussion, so let’s save that for another blog.
Until next time, keep considering Ephesians 4:26-28 NASU:
Be angry, and yet do not sin;
do not let the sun go down on your anger,
and do not give the devil an opportunity.
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