ST. PAUL on ANGER MANAGEMENT
(Monday, October 2)
“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another. Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” (Eph 4:25-27)
Sometimes, we might be angry at someone or something, but do not speak with one another about it. In today’s Epistle, St. Paul carefully recommends speaking about it, in a not-sinful and timely fashion, so that the sun does not “go down on” our wrath, and so we don’t carry around and nourish a resentment in silence.
This is what is meant by the oft-misunderstood verse from Psalm 4 (quoted by St. Paul in its Septuagint version): “Be angry, and do not sin.” This means, If you are angry, go ahead and be angry, but do not sin; I need to “read” my anger as a sign, that I need to take the necessary steps towards healing, first and foremost of myself. Just as physical pain is a helpful sign that some part of my body needs healing, so is emotional pain or disturbance a helpful sign that something is off with *me*, even if another person is also wrong. *I* am ultimately responsible for my own standing or falling before God, and “repenting” (or changing focus) when I am disturbed/distracted away from His grace. St. Paul expounds on this further, by advising honesty (or “putting away lying”), and getting the issue resolved in a compassionate conversation with one another, (*not* dysconnected, but as “members of one another”), within the same day that we began to feel anger about it. Otherwise, we might “give place to the devil,” which basically means letting the conversation unfold in our own heads, with only our own anger doing all the talking inside of us.
Let’s also remember all this in cases of our “righteous” indignation about political matters. Let us “speak truth with our neighbor,” when we need to do that, but let go of any anger, like a hot potato. Because anger accomplishes nothing, and harms us, making us ineffective and giving “place to the devil.” Lord, help us speak today “as members of one another,” so when the sun goes down this evening, we can all go to sleep unscathed by pointless anger, about people and things we cannot change.