Being angry but not sinning

by Jul 1, 2020

Recently, a few of us in our Life Group worked through a YouVersion devotional series on habits.

Or at least, that’s what I thought we were getting into.

In reality, this extremely valuable, insightful short Bible study series focused on what its authors refers to as “enemies of the heart”.

Author Andy Stanley offers this plan to help us break free from four emotions that control us. He shows from scripture that focusing on our behaviour isn’t enough. What’s going on in our hearts will eventually seep out into every area of our lives… So it’s important we address those heart issues, too.

The emotions Stanley describes as enemies of our hearts are:

  1. Guilt – the result of having done something we perceive as wrong. The message from a heart laden with guilt is, “I owe!”
  2. Anger – We get angry when we don’t get what we want. We feel something is owed to us.
  3. Greed – It’s when we feel that we deserve more and more worldly wealth and goods. Greed says, “I owe me.”
  4. Jealousy – Jealousy says, “God owes me.”

Probably the one I struggle with the most is anger. I don’t like feeling sad or hurt or powerless, so I choose anger to protect me. I wrap it around me like a cape. It makes me feel strong and powerful. 

It makes me feel safe.

But we’re told to clothe ourselves in righteousness (Col 3:14) and put off the old man (Eph. 4:22). Time to change my outfit!

And we’re told God is our refuge – our tower and our place of safety (Ps. 46:1). Time to recognise where my safety really comes from!

He also tells us not to let the sun go down on our wrath (Eph. 4:26). That doesn’t always mean we “don’t go to bed angry”, or worse, “we stay up and fight!” And it doesn’t mean the situation is resolved or the anger or offence is unjustified or shouldn’t be tackled.

It means we give the anger to Him, and lean on Him for the grace to address the situation, and to persevere.

Each of these emotions has the power to cripple us. The overwhelm alone can leave us feeling paralysed and impotent, depressed and unable to function. This is why the freedom Jesus brings us is so liberating and empowering – He literally sets us free from these enemies of our hearts. Amen!