“When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury, or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Leave no room or foothold for the devil (give no opportunity to him)!” Ephesians 4:26-27
“Pay attention and always be on your guard (looking out for one another). If your brother sins (misses the mark), solemnly tell him so and reprove him, and if he repents (feels sorry for having sinned), forgive him. And even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and turns to you seven times and says, ‘I repent, I am sorry,’ you MUST forgive him (give up resentment and consider the offense recalled and annulled.” Luke 17:3-4
“God will keep (you) in perfect peace when your mind is stayed upon Him.” Is. 26:3.
This word “mind” is not the word we commonly use to refer to our reasoning faculties; it is translated as “imagination.” Last week we talked about how vital it is that we keep our minds stayed upon God and take every thought captive or prisoner if it doesn’t line up with God’s heart, purposes, and will. You know as well as I do what happens if we fail to follow this command. The devil knows too! (2 Cor. 10:4-5). The word “stayed” is an unusual verb that means “to lean on; rest on; or stay on.” The only way we will experience this peace is if we make Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the object and source of our rest.
Have you ever gone to bed angry about what someone did or didn’t do or what they said or did not say? Those kinds of thoughts are the primary reasons we get offended, insulted, irritated, or upset.
Ephesians 4:26-27 warns us, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.”That word “wrath” is the Greek word parorgismos; it paints the image of a person who brings anger to his side and then embraces it. Instead of rejecting anger and all the devastating effects it wreaks on you and those around you, you draw it to yourself and nurse it, nourish it, feed it, and care for it. It makes no sense when you think about it now, but in the heat of the moment, if it isn’t taken captive, interrogated, and imprisoned, its mission will be successful and the damage severe!
In the scriptures we studied last week regarding taking every thought captive that exalts itself against God, the connotation and actual verbiage are the same words describing our enemies in Ephesians – principalities, powers, and every high thing that exalts itself above or against God! You are no match against these “harmless angry thoughts” without the power and authority of Christ working through your obedience! You feel justified while the enemy knows you’re “just about fried”! Then after you’ve made the offense your companion, it goes wherever you go – even to your bed after the sunset has long past.
Remember, the word “devil” is the Greek word diabalos, describing the devil as the one who “repetitiously throws accusations at the mind, striking again and again until he penetrates the mind with his lies, hatred, and relationship-destroying insinuations.” And what better time to attack full-on than when you go to bed to try and rest your soul with a good, restorative night’s sleep! That’s why Paul stresses us to never allow the sun to go down upon your wrath. All it does is open the door wide for the enemy whose motive is to steal, kill, and destroy. The word “place” is the Greek word topos, which translates to a specific geographical spot – an entry point for the devil to stir up trouble and affectively destroy relationships if left unchecked! This is no small issue. It’s an open door for many other foul things to enter your mind and dreams during the night. If you’re not aware of his evil tactics, you may begin thinking that deep down you must be an awful person, maybe not even saved. After all, you ask yourself, what Christian would dream what I just dreamed? Do you have a taste for just how very critical it is we take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ?
Confront, forgive, and forget.
“If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” Luke 17:3
It’s difficult for many (most) people to confront someone else regarding an offense. But if the other person is unaware of the issue, sometimes confrontation is necessary. Ignoring it just allows it to fester into something much worse. It’s always better to kindly say what you feel than allow the emotions to morph into an ugly monster ready to attack at any moment. Confrontation is uncomfortable, but it’s a lot less painful than having to apologize after erupting like a volcano!
This word “trespass” is the Greek word hamartano, which means “to violate a rule; cross a line (like with your temper); to commit a grievance; or to miss the mark.” The word “rebuke” is the Greek word epitimao, which in this case means “to speak frankly; honestly; and politely as you tell a person how you feel they have wronged or hurt you.” It does not mean you talk to that one like they are evil – it merely means to directly and honestly confront that one. This issue of honesty and transparency is a huge one in believers today. So many continue on week after week as if programmed to just smile and pretend all is okay when on the inside an entirely different movie is playing repetitiously, “I can’t believe she said that to me,” or “I won’t let him wrong me like that again!” The problem continues to eat away silently every ounce of that person’s peace and ability to be a true minister to others until the enemy reduces their desire for Jesus and intent to see others set free to cynicism. Believers put themselves in dangerous territory when they harbor hidden disagreements while acting as if nothing is wrong. If someone has hurt you and caused you great pain – even if they are not sorry – forgiveness is the highest road to take to avoid further danger.
Prayer solves a lot of problems by itself. Spending time in the Presence of God places you in a position to hear His voice and receive revelation regarding the one who wronged you. There are people who don’t appear to be able to refrain from pressing other’s buttons, only out of their own pain, insecurity, or fear of rejection. The Word says it best when it comes to these difficult situations and issues, “Mercy rejoices over judgment.” Never forget how many times you’ve offended people yourself in the past. You didn’t intend to do it. You may not even have known you did it until much later when someone brought it up. You were probably embarrassed or sad when you heard how the enemy used you as a tool to hurt another person or leave a bad impression. “To the merciful God shows Himself merciful.”
Church, we are at a point in God’s amazing timetable when we must be awake, aware, and not ignorant of the devices of the enemy. He would love nothing more than to see marriages unravel, friends made into enemies, children draw away from their parents or worse yet be pierced through by unguarded words, statements, or actions. Never allow the sun to go down upon your wrath. It feels so intimidating to go to another and express your thoughts or allow yourself to be transparent enough to clear up the issue, even if you fear ridicule or retaliation. But beloved, it is the best road, and it is the higher road, and it allows restoration and healing entrance rather than an ever-growing monster whose sole mission is to see you destroyed. Ruminate on this – is it worth it? Have you counted the cost to your own well-being to instead hold grudges and willingly give up everything for the prideful attitude of always having to be right, no matter the cost or having to have the last word? This ought not be so if Jesus Christ, Who IS love, is abiding and residing in you right now.
Lord Jesus, I am sorry for the times I have allowed my anger to rise up and take control of me, using my tongue to harm others whether I knew it or not. I realize that I have no excuse because the Spirit of God lives within me and should be allowed to possess this vessel of mine. I now see that I have opened doors to the devil in the past that have caused unmerited pain or hardship on others – even those I love the most. I want to shut the doors to the devil so he can no longer have access to me, my marriage, my children, my co-workers, or to those I love. I am asking You Lord to help me with this and to remind me to never allow an issue, small or large, to go unchecked and morph into a weapon of destruction. I confess that the Holy Spirit lives within me and is changing me into His image as I allow Him access and am willing to let Him keep house in my heart. Help me Lord to be self-controlled, patient, and kind. And above all, thank You for Your love and mercy which You have freely made available to me unconditionally. Thank You, Jesus, that love never fails. Amen!
Ruminate on that.