Anger is a Gateway Drug

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” — Ephesians‬ ‭4‬:‭26‬ ESV

It is not a sin to be angry. But anger opens the door to sin. We make the choice, based on our reaction to that anger, whether we will walk through that door. There is righteous anger, but that is not the kind of anger that this post is examining.

To what kinds of sin can anger lead? Hatred, bitterness, vengeance, violence, murder. The list could go on and on.

As a former “anger junkie”I speak from experience. It is truly amazing how anger that is not dealt with can quickly lead not only to sin, but also to destruction. It has the potential to feed back upon itself, escalating from a simple reaction (to any number of stressors) to full-blown spiritual death. “For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20 ESV).

An incident in my early adulthood devastated me. It started with hurt, soon followed by anger. While I allowed myself to dwell on the hurt and anger, a fire of bitterness was kindled inside me. I’m not proud of the man that I became, and I lament the years that I allowed bitterness and ungodly anger to steal from me, years that could have been productive for God.

Paul tells us, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians4:31-32 ESV). He makes it sound so easy! But depending on how deeply you are “addicted”, the withdrawal can be long and brutal.

It was only after I saw that my sin was rooted in selfishness–which, let’s be honest, is at the heart of most sin–that I was able to move forward in life and my relationship with God. That helped me learn to forgive. Tomorrow we will look at selfishness and forgiveness as it relates to anger, and how repenting of one and embracing the other will lead to peace with God, and peace with others.

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