Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. (NLT)
We can deal with anger in a few unhelpful ways. One is to blow up, let it all out so the shrapnel from our outburst does harm to others. Or we can clam up, pushing it down inside us so it doesn’t find expression. But this causes other problems: buried anger is powerful and can damage both body and mind if not dealt with. That other biblical phrase about not letting the sun go down on our anger implies we have to deal with it and not let it boil away inside.
Anger in itself is not wrong: it can lead to positive change if channelled correctly. We are urged to be angry without sinning. And this text shows us how to do that. We do not become consumed by rage. We take time and space to reflect on just what is causing the anger. What is going on? Such reflection helps us avoid displaced anger where I get angry at a third or innocent party. The boss at work upsets me and so I get angry at my family.
We find some way to safely express it without damaging others. This text urges self control, but self control is not about suppressing anger. It is about deciding how and when to express it in a wise and safe way. Whenever we are angry, something is out of order, something needs attention. Instead of ignoring it or letting it all out all at once, we take time to grasp its nature. What is behind the anger?
We neither blow up or clam up. We grow up.
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