I’m sure we have all heard the verse, be angry and sin not, let not the sun go down on your anger. I always wondered what that meant, was it OK to get mad? The verse is from several verses talking about our new life in Christ and how it is different from our old life.
Growing up in the organized church, getting mad was a sin. We were always told you should not get mad or show anger toward anyone. Yet this verse always confused me. When talking about our new life in Christ, was it really OK to be angry?
I thought about the day Jesus entered the temple and was causing a big commotion with the money changers. It sure seemed to me he was mad at that point.
At work one day, I sat and listened as a couple guys were talking and noticed the conversation was getting heated. I could hear in their voices the anger rising up. Yet, when one of them needed some help with a certain project, he asked the guy he was arguing with to help him. Surprisingly to me, the guy stopped and went to help do what was needed.
I thought to myself, wow, I have been in numerous church administrative board meetings in the past and heard people get mad and argue, and literally storm off like they were enemies. Yet, here were two people arguing that same way, yet not showing any hatred toward the other.
I think that is what this verse is saying, it is not wrong to have feelings, opinions and reactions. It is not wrong to get mad and argue, but do not let your arguing lead to hatred of the other person. Do not let the sun go down on your anger to me is saying get mad, let your thoughts and feelings out, and get over it. Do not hold onto your feelings of being mad.
I think a lot of times that old teaching from my Sunday school days keeps coming through and I hold my feelings and emotions in rather than express myself. I am coming to find that the best thing to do is communicate my feelings, even get mad if necessary, but be respectful and do not hold onto those feelings. Get mad, get it out and move on.
Of course that does not mean we get mad and argue over petty things all the time, but when something deep within you needs expressed, you should do so. It seems that when we are free to express ourselves, discuss our thoughts, even get mad about it, we are actually creating a more open and real relationship with the other person. As long as we can do so without holding onto the bad feelings and get over being mad.
It is a hard thing to be mad about something and argue with someone, yet do so in a loving and respectful way. It is certainly not the natural way, but with God’s love within us it can be a reality.