Be angry. Sin not.
It’s taken some time to not let my emotions rule me. It’s a practiced restraint that I don’t always excel at.
I want to react and whatever consequences come after, oh well.
But the thing is, I usually don’t want to deal with the consequences and they are almost never what I expect them to be. The most poignant example of this is when we speak in anger.
In the moment, I really want to hurt whoever it is who has hurt or angered me, because they started it! They hurt me, they’ve upset me and as the offended I reserve the right to exact punishment.
Except because I’ve chosen to submit to Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I’ve forfeited that right.
Being a Christian is forever “being the bigger person”, because “vengeance is mine, i will repay, saith the Lord”(Romans 12:19). I’m not responsible for how people treat me only how I respond to how they treat me, and God is only holding me accountable for my actions.
If someone steps on my toe and I curse them out, no matter how justified I feel about why I cursed them out, I’m still wrong for doing it.
Let’s look at Numbers 20: 8-12:
“Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”
Moses was understandably frustrated with the people of Israel, because God had delivered them from Egypt and had been miraculously providing for them as they traveled from the place of their enslavement to their promised land. Yet, at every turn they complained to Moses about the journey. So when they complained about being thirsty Moses had had enough! God showed him how to provide water to the people by speaking to the rock, but Moses, in his anger, struck the rock instead.
It wasn’t Moses’ place to act on how he felt about the people of Israel and as a result, he missed out on seeing the promised land for himself.
This cautionary tale is not so that we operate in fear, but to think more thoroughly about our reactions, especially as representatives of Christ.
Ephesians 4:26 says,
“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”
God isn’t saying don’t be angry, He is saying take a breath, turn the other cheek and keep on pushing. Matthew 5:46 says,
“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?”
If we get angry and react just like anyone else would, how does that represent Christ? If our lives are supposed to shine and lead people to the knowledge of Christ, but we act just like they do, why do they need to be saved? What is there to be delivered from?
It’s also worth noting that whatever temporary satisfaction we feel from lashing out, usually doesn’t last long enough to enjoy it past that moment. Once we realize how much damage we’ve caused, we often feel remorseful and wonder how things could have worked out better.
Sometimes people, work, strangers on the train, family, store clerks, life quite frankly makes us mad, and that’s ok. God created us human with a range of emotions and He also gave us the discipline not to act on them.
Be angry. Sin not. I’m telling you that it’s not an easy or even natural response to those things that come and get on our nerves, but with God we can do anything...including not give in to our emotions.