Focus: Making right choices
Ephesians 4:26 (NIV) In your anger do not sin, do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
We all have reasons why we could have anger issues…God didn’t leave anger out of the Bible. There are plenty of stories that portray anger and the results. Anger is a reality. Anger is a choice.
As I look back over my life and recall times I chose to be angry—and choices I made because of anger—it’s sobering. Anger makes people do things that aren’t pretty.
Nations have chosen not to trust each other for millennia because of ancestral anger passed down from generation to generation. Social pressures from unresolved anger have resulted in wars and terrorism. The old saying, ‘friends are people with common enemies’, couldn’t be truer. One person in their own strength couldn’t go to battle against a nation. So, when one person or a small group of people choose to have an anger issue—they have to convince enough other people to choose anger in order to create an ‘army’ of angry people.
Wars have been fought in the name of peace—but behind the push for peace, you will find people who have not only chosen peace—but also some anger. If a soldier goes into the armed forces without any desire to fight—it’s the drill sergeant’s job to get that person mad enough to change. All kinds of tactics are employed to get soldiers willing to go out and fight—and it’s not all about establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Sometimes it’s about money, power, and greed…oh, and don’t forget anger.
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‘Sin’ is doing something you know is wrong. Sin and anger are a very destructive combination. Ephesians 4:26 tells us not to sin when we are angry. That is a huge challenge, if you think about it. Who gets angry and chooses to be nice to everyone they know in spite of their anger? What angry person responds to evil with good? Have any violent crimes ever been committed by someone who was not angry? Let’s face it, anger often leads to sin. Yet, this verse says—“In your anger do not sin”. How could a person be angry and not sin? I’m not sure that’s even possible.
The verse goes on to say, “do not let the sun go down while you are still angry”. This makes sense…but, I have to confess there were times in my life when I went to bed mad. So, what happens when you go to sleep angry? Well, first of all—you’re probably going to have some trouble getting settled down enough to sleep at all. When your insides are churning and your mind is racing—it’s hard enough just getting your eyes to stay closed…much less pretend your head is resting on a cloud and you’re floating around where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops. No, it’s likely that going to bed angry will rob you of some sleep.
An angry person who needs to get some sleep is probably apt to ‘take something’ to get to sleep, if they happen to have anything on hand. So, there’s another potential problem—chronic anger can make a person want to drink or take drugs to get to sleep.
What about your quality of sleep when you go to bed angry? Researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst conducted a study which concluded that sleeping after a traumatic event might lock in bad memories and emotions. Their findings showed that sleep can preserve and even amplify negative emotions.
So, when you go to bed angry—you’re not going to somehow wake up happy. You may open your eyes in the morning more angry than the night before. It’s hard to resolve an anger hangover first thing in the morning. Chances are good that your anger may get ‘stuffed down’ as responsibilities cause you to have to go out and earn a living or move on with other things. Unresolved issues can magnify a new conflict out of proper proportion—resulting in a cycle of escalating emotions. In a situation of ongoing, unresolved anger, the layers pile up, so that each time an episode of anger comes around—the past issues quickly come to the forefront and add fuel to the fire.
I tried to quit smoking for several years. When my doctor asked me why I couldn’t quit, I told him it was because of anger. When I got mad, I didn’t care about living. So what if my lungs were bad? When I was angry—which was frequently, I just didn’t care. I lit up a cigarette. He gave me some good advice. He said I should reverse my response to an upsetting event. Instead of doing something harmful to myself out of anger—I should do something good—like cook myself a nice steak, or purchase some cosmetics with the money I would have spent on more cigarettes.
Declaration: I will find new strength by choosing not to allow anger to rule my heart and mind. I will not carry one day’s trials over to the next. I will find positive ways to respond to situations that make me angry, so that I don’t cause harm to myself or anyone else.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.