Today’s bible study is Ephesians 4:26-27: 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.
We all get angry from time to time. With all the people, situations and events we are in contact with each day, it is impossible not to become angry now and then. And many of us, rather than blowing up, step back, take a deep breath, and count to ten. Sometimes this will help to calm us. Many of us use far more elaborate methods of anger management and relaxation, but most of us simply hold our tongues, release our clenched fists, and take a cleansing breath. And, for the most part, we can overcome anger and go on about our business without committing any real sin.
Many of us, especially husbands and wives and those in couples’ situations try not to go to bed angry. We may be as angry as little storm clouds, ready to spit the proverbial nails, yet we have resolved never to go to bed angry, and do our best to calm down and settle our differences before retiring. But what does this verse mean in the time and place it was written in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians?
Paul is actually speaking of the old life and the new. He writes of no longer living as the Gentiles live but living by the way learned from Christ as taught in him. The Christian faith is transmitted by teaching. The readers have become Christian and have entered into a new life by learning. Paul lived in a pre-Constantinian world in which the church could not expect the culture to transmit the faith. People did not learn what it meant to be Christian by absorbing the ethos of the dominant culture.
Paul tells us not to let the sun go down while we are angry. Anger itself is not necessarily sinful, but nursing grudges disrupt and poison the life of the community.
This lesson is as valid for us today as it was long ago. Anger is a human emotion and one which we are heir to. It’s difficult to think of anyone who can pass through this life without experiencing anger. It is when we act upon our anger or hold a grudge based upon our anger that it becomes hurtful, both to us and to others. It also becomes hurtful to our faith and to the Christian community to which we belong.
References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock, The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur and Concise Bible Commentary, David S. Dockery, General Editor
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