(Adapted from Jimmy’s newest book, When Life Hurts)
“‘In your anger, do not sin,’” Paul instructed the Church at Ephesus. “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26).
Some of us may have grown up with the impression that anger is a bad thing, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. The Bible depicts God getting angry at the unfaithfulness of his people, and Jesus is shown confronting the money-changers in the temple due to His anger.
God uses anger to mobilize us to change. Righteous anger can be a positive force, driving people to do things they otherwise might not have done—ministering in an impoverished country, returning to school to become a preacher, running for political office, or confronting a brother who has given in to temptation.
Anger, in itself, is not a sin. But anger can become sin when we allow it to grow and fester. It become rage. I call this “aged anger.” Aged anger is nothing more than human wrath, and wrath is reserved for God alone.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” James writes, “because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19–20).
I used to say that aged anger gives our enemy a foothold into our lives, but it’s much more than that. Anger gives Satan an invitation. It’s a dare for him to grab onto our lives and come along with us for the ride.That’s why Paul warns believers to settle their anger before the sun goes down, because festering anger is a dangerous and deadly thing—especially between a husband and wife.
When we let anger stew and grow increasingly bitter, it begins to impact us in unhealthy ways. It digs its fingers onto our spirits, molding and shaping our emotions into something they were never intended to become.
It scratches at our wounds. It creates resentment. It causes us to see our spouse through a new lens colored by bitterness, hurt, and hostility.
I see aged anger every time a couple sits in my office wondering what happened to their once-happy marriage. Both are weary and frustrated by the constant battle. Both are struggling to understand each other.
Both are angry. Rather than dealing with their anger, they have let it settle and grow, over and over again. They have given the enemy an entrance into their relationship, and he has used it to separate them.
When the devil’s lies become your thoughts, they begin to compromise everything about you. They infiltrate your relationships and sabotage your marriage. They keep you from a right relationship with God.
So often this begins with festering anger. When you and your spouse have a disagreement, talk it out with honesty, grace, and openness. Rather than letting it sour overnight, let it out in the open and let the anger dissipate.
Your marriage will thank you.