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Christian Biblical Studies
Q Ephesians 4:26 (KJV): ‘Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.’
What does this mean?
A What it does not mean is that we must stay angry. Rather, the Apostle Paul’s exhortation is that when we are angry – even for good reason – we must time-limit our mood, and not carry it over to the next day.
The translation of this verse in the New International Version is somewhat more clear:
‘In your anger do not sin’: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
The anger referred to is that which might arise in our relations with others, those closest to us and others more distant. Our anger may on occasion be justified and proper, and is not necessarily sinful. However, more often than not we are prone to angry outbursts, disproportionate to whatever offence has triggered the response. Regardless, we must make the effort squelch our angry temper by day’s end, whether or not we get an apology. Failure to do so may damage our own character and make us bitter or sarcastic. (Reconciliation is a different matter, and may need to be pursued at a later time.)
This attitude of controlling our anger or bad temper goes hand in hand with our forgiving those whom we believe to have sinned against us. Very often we will need to show forgiveness even before it is requested. Our Lord’s conduct and His words from the cross, demonstrate that even where no evidence of repentance is seen, we should in our hearts forgive – even if wisdom leads us to wait for evidence of repentance before expressing that forgiveness to the offender. In many cases the offender will deny having done anything that needs to be forgiven, but such a tone should not prevent our choosing to forgive.
It is sobering to realise how many times we fail to ask our Heavenly Father for forgiveness of our own sins against others. Still, He forgives us. If He did not, our burden of guilt would become intolerable.
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