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An Anger that Doesn't Lead to Sin

Started with a prayer before a protest. In the Summer of 2020 with all the civil unrest and protest, I prayed that the protesters though angry it would not lead them to commit sin.

Ephesians 4:17-32 Instructions for Christian Living

So, I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. (Message)

Anger is a natural human emotion and it is not a bad one in and of itself. The problem is what we do with the anger when we do feel it. Because no one can make you angry, anger is a choice; but we can feel the emotion in response to a situation or person.

In his book, “Motive Powers” James McCosh's, wrote that "We may be angry and sin not; but this nature may become sinful, and this in the highest degree. It is so when it is excessive when it is rage and makes us lose control of ourselves. It is so and may become a vice when it leads us to wish evil to those who have offended us. It is resentment when it prompts us to meet and repay evil by evil. It is vengeance when it impels us to crush those who have injured us. It is vindictiveness when it is seeking out ingeniously and laboriously means and instruments to give pain to those who have thwarted us. Already sin has entered."

(Ephesians 4:26 AMP) says to be angry at sin, immorality, at injustice, and at ungodly behavior.

Anger can be a powerful tool as well as a destructive one but it can also lead us to do good things.

St. Thomas Aquinas, in the question on the anger of his Summa Theologiae, quotes states that "he that is angry without cause, shall be in danger; but he that is angry with cause, shall not be in danger: for without anger, teaching will be useless, judgments unstable, crimes unchecked," and concludes saying that "to be angry is therefore not always an evil."

So, if it is ok to be angry, how can I channel that anger into something good?

1. Explore It-- Deal with the emotions behind the anger. Examining yourself is not an easy thing to do. Some of us know what triggers us, but maybe not the reason behind it. Questions to ask--Why am I feeling this way? Why is what they did, do, or say make me feel like _________? Then take action.

2. Ask for help-- What is your SOS plan? For some people, anger can be a slow boil or a volcanic eruption. It takes100 milliseconds for our brains to react to something emotionally and 600 milliseconds for our thinking brain to recognize the emotions. So, by the time you decide not to act your face is already showing the emotion. And with so much that comes at us as a people, with a global pandemic, unemployment at an all-time high, protest and riots, natural disasters, and just life, if we don’t have a plan for how we deal with our anger; we can find ourselves in danger. Where a thought can turn into an ungodly action. (Kenosha shooter) Proverbs 18:21 says that as a man thinks so he becomes. Be intentional in prayer and seek help from a trusted friend or spiritual leader. Practice self-care and “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry”

3. Refocus-- We experience emotions in our mind body and spirit. We need to change our relationship with our emotions. Anger is not evil, but if we focus on that emotion and it is not channeled it then becomes evil. Learn that the feelings pass but the damage caused may be permanent. Allow God to fight for you.

Romans 12: 16-19 (NLT)-- Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. 4. Reflect— On your humanity and that of the other person, God forgave us and holds no record of our wrongdoing. If Jesus could make peace with and forgive those who crucified him, can we too do the same? (Ephesians 4: 2,3 NLT) Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. Bridgett Mack of BMackWrites--Kindness always confuses the enemy. They can’t tell if you’re being condescending, sarcastic, or straight-up dumb. But then again, that’s the mindset when you don’t know Jesus Romans 12: 20-21(NLT) “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. (Proverbs 15:1 NLT) A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.

5. Resolve—To love (John 3:14-15), to live at peace (Colossians 3:15 NIV), and channel your anger for good.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 3:14-15),

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15 NIV)

If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good if that’s what God wants than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God. 1 Peter 3: 13-18 MSG

(Psalm 103:8 NLT) The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry, and filled with unfailing love

(Luke 6:28-33 NLT) Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much!

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