“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV).
How does a person be angry and not sin? A still better question might be, how do we keep the devil from an opportunity with our anger? We know not to throw temper tantrums. We’ve learned that from an early age, whether we have stopped throwing them or not. But the opposite of throwing a fit can be just as bad, and maybe worse in some cases. I chose to hold anger in and stuff it down deep.
That is how I have dealt with anger for most of my life. Oh, I had outbursts here and there. But only because I could only hold in so much before it had to go somewhere. I can guarantee the explosion was never pretty. When we don’t deal with the anger, it festers in our thoughts. Those thoughts become too much to bear, so we stuff them. Stuffed emotions come out in our actions and speech, whether we realize it or not.
Dwelling on the anger and stuffing my feelings quenched the Holy Spirit in my life, so He could not work through me. We give the devil room to move in and make himself at home when we hold on to resentment. That is what I did. I wasted most of my life being angry about something that I could not change, and because I chose to stuff my anger and not wholly forgive, my life turned upside down.
Today, I try not to give the devil an opportunity. I go into my prayer closet, and I lay my anger down before the Lord. My prayer starts out ranting about what I am angry about, but always ends with a humble, “But Lord, I cannot change the situation. Please make me the right person in this situation through my actions and speech and give me love in my heart for others. Not my will, but yours”.
The transformation of my attitude by the end of my prayer always amazes me!