26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
27 and give no opportunity to the devil.
Ephesians 4:26-31 English Standard Version (ESV)
“What happened to that good little boy who used to live here?” my mother asked me after I threw my last temper tantrum as a primary school student.
“If you do kill your pony today, how do you think you will feel tomorrow?” my favorite aunt asked me while applying first-aid to the blood and scratches I received from grandma’s plum tree when the pony had decided we had ridden enough for the day and a low branch would communicate well with me.
“Even though you broke the rule against fighting, you will receive no punishment since you were defending your teacher and the other children,” my principal informed me in first grade after a boy playing with a jump rope, twirling it over his head like a cowboy, hit several people, including my teacher, who was crying and motivated my attack against the boy, received my first black eye from the end of his rope, and acted as I had seen the good guys in many Westerns, on our black-and-white television.
So, I guess I learned anger management at an early age:
- Basic Maternal Guilt Trip: my mama disapproved thus I quit throwing a fit
- Think of the Consequences: my aunt directed my thoughts to a future after my present pain
- Righteous Indignation: my principal approved of being angry in order to stop sin
I don’t act out my anger very often now because I do agree with the biblical passage to be angry but not be sinful in how it’s expressed. Being angry without sin requires setting and enforcing some boundaries on yourself so there’s no hitting, spitting, yelling, cursing, name-calling, or behaving in any way you would not desire to be on the receiving end of someone else’s anger. The same applies to anger with yourself, so you’re not sinning against yourself with how your thinking or talking to yourself.
Don’t let the sun go down on your anger is good advice to finish each day forgiving and forgiven to prevent anger from building up over time into bitterness and resentment.
Don’t give an opportunity to the devil is fair warning to prevent anger from motivating you to do something you will regret in the future.
If you need more principles, processes and provision to manage your anger, call the Healthy Counseling Center for help at (509) 466-6632.