In Ephesians we are told “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.”
I was raised with the phrase “Let not the sun go down on your anger.” To me it seemed a general principle, and one I didn’t really understand. “Don’t go to bed angry.” Sure, but why?
Recently I had the opportunity to learn why from firsthand experience. I have struggled with bitterness for a long time. Usually it starts, and gets added to, when I say “no, I’ll let whatever they did slide this time. I don’t want to start a fight.” And then the anger builds, the resentment rises, and soon I’m left feeling bitter about so-and-so and what they did to me. That’s a hard place to get out of, and far from fun.
The other day I was given the opportunity to change that. I encountered the same sort of event that usually leads me into resentment, and as I was walking out that anger, I considered the advice a wise counselor gave me. He recommended that I talk to the person I anticipated being in conflict with, and deal with the problem before it started.
That evening, pacing around Moscow, it struck me what it meant to not let the sun go down on one’s anger. We can avoid dealing with problems when we fear conflict, but that won’t make the problems go away. If we refuse to address them, they just get bigger. Bitterness grows, the devil finds a foothold, and soon conflict comes on a scale far larger than you had anticipated. Don’t let that moment pass, don’t let the sun set. Deal with problems before they get out of hand.
It must be remembered, of course, that the preceding phrase is “be ye angry, and sin not.” There were more than a few things I wanted to say that would have been out of line, and would only have made the situation worse. In dealing with conflict between brothers, we shouldn’t add to that conflict. We can’t fix one sin with another.
I am glad to say that when we addressed our issue that day, we resolved things well. As a result, I have a better relationship with my brother in Christ, and have avoided another long, nasty battle with bitterness. This is a lesson I hope I have learned for good, and I hope my experience can encourage you in this respect.
Have blessed evening.