In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the
devil a foothold…. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of
redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of
malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave
you.” (Ephesians 4:26-27, 30-32 NIV
I have been engaged in “prayer & counsel” ministry and mediation of family conflicts for 25
years. The most destructive single force I have encountered in people’s lives is unresolved anger.
Anger is a God-given emotion with a godly but limited purpose. When we experience injustice or
see evil victimizing others, a righteous anger can arise in us to motivate action. We are created in God’s
image and such emotion imitates God’s wrath against evil. (Psalm 7:11) Jesus cleared the temple in
righteous anger. (John 2:13-17)
However, unlike the Lord, we far too often sin in our anger. We respond to evil with evil. One
killing leads to another in Palestine and one cruel word leads to another in our living room spat. We
forget that the Lord commands us to be kind to our enemy and overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:18-
We also go to bed still angry, and usually this unresolved anger is not just a one-night stand. We
can hold on to that anger for years. It is killing us.
Anger comes in varied forms: bitterness, rage, obsessive thoughts of revenge, long-term
frustration, or even cynicism, which is looking at the world through anger-colored glasses.
These angers come from hurts in varied degrees of severity: injustices both real and perceived to
our person, our pride or someone we love. Some angers are recent. Many are childhood hurts from abuse
or rejection. You can be angry with others, yourself, or even God.
When sincere apologies are offered, or justice served through restitution or punishment, we can
usually release our anger. But when those things don’t occur, the anger stays with us. It may remain in
our conscious thoughts or it may be stuffed in a memory closet, but it will not – I repeat – will not go
away on its own. It cripples our ability to love or receive love. It gnaws away at our whole person,
resulting in physical problems like sleeplessness, digestive troubles, headaches, or worse. As we come to
conclude “things will never be made right”, it even becomes the root for chronic depression.
The Prince of Peace has the answer to this bondage. The Lord will, if we ask, remove that anger
and heal those hurts. But He will not do so until we obey His command. We must choose to forgive.
Forgiveness is a “very big deal” to our Lord. It is the only lesson Jesus reemphasizes in the Lord’s
Prayer. (Matthew 6:14-15) It is the first action Jesus took from the cross: “Father, forgive them….” (Luke
There were no apologies or restitutions taking place when Jesus forgave those who hurt Him.
Their hearts were still filled with hate and evil. He forgave to keep anger and hate out of His own heart.
We must do likewise.
Reconciliation and restored relationships are God’s goal. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) But
reconciliation is mutual. It requires both parties, and in many situations, the one who hurt you cannot or
will not cooperate. You cannot control their choices. All you can do is your part. (Romans 12:18) You
must forgive anyway for your own health and relationship with God.
God wants you freed. (2 Corinthians 3:17) Ask Him to reveal where your unresolved angers are
rooted. You may benefit from the help of a mature Christian you trust. But don’t let the grass grow under
your feet. The devil has had his foothold long enough.
Remember the act of forgiveness is a choice to obey God even when your feelings say, “No!”
God will help your feelings change as He cleanses you from the anger and begins to heal your heart.
If you have unresolved self-condemnation, forgive yourself. You cannot properly “love your
neighbor as yourself” until you forgive yourself, so join God in His forgiveness of you. (Galatians 5:14) It
will give you a fresh start in life. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
And when forgiving still feels like it is too unfair and too hard to do, remember this: When Jesus
paid the price for your sins, He also paid the price for the sins of others against you. (1 John 2:2) Any
remaining issues of justice to be addressed can be entrusted to the One who will judge everyone. (Acts
10:42; Romans 12:19) You must let that burden go. Then you will be free.
God bless you, and God bless our community.