And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT
All of us experience anger. And some of us are better at hiding our anger, but hiding it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are controlling our anger. If we hide or anger over something and press it down inside, it can result in unforgiven and bitterness in our hearts towards the person that was responsible for making us angry. These things are not good and can become the root of all kinds of weeds growing up in our lives – they can become a spiritual foothold for the enemy to take hold of a part of our lives.
Also, if we allow our anger to rage and burst forth towards others in a response that is unloving, impatient, and unkind – we are allowing our amber to control us and we are missing an opportunity to react by trusting in God. We are missing an opportunity to let His light shine and poor out the annointing of His love into the world. We are producing bad fruit that isn’t nourishing or healing for those around us.
And don’t think that I’m saying that you can’t vent your anger at all or that you can’t force yourself to keep from reacting. We don’t want to vent thoughtlessly and cause harm, but there is a way to respond correctly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And we don’t want to foolishly hold onto our anger and let it fester, but there is a way to handle it wisely by trusting in the Lord.
Let’s remember the persecution that Jesus Christ faced at the cross. And do we see His reaction to His accusers and His persecutors? He prays, Father forgive them, because they don’t understand what they are doing.
And if we think to ourselves, yes, but that was Jesus Christ, He is God, it’s no surprise that He had the power to forgive them even in that circumstance. Let’s look what Stephen had to say to the Pharisees and his reaction during his being brutally killed:
“You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you! Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered. You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels.” The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”
Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.
Acts of the Apostles 7:51-60 NLT
You see, Stephen speaks of the Holy Spirit, the divine nature and love of God. He doesn’t speak about religious practice and hypocrisy and pride being the way to enter heaven. These Pharisees had plenty of those things that they were clinging to that convicted them and made them angry when they heard Stephen’ words. And their reaction was to be controlled by their anger – and even so, over words of truth spoken about them.
But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, reacted to their hurtful actions towards him with love and forgiveness. These are two very different ways that anger was handled. Don’t think that Christ or Stephen were empty of emotional response. Don’t think that they were removed to some meditative plane of consciousness so they were escaping the pain and the persecution. They suffered trial and tribulation just as we will suffer if we choose to follow in His footsteps. And we suffer because the wickedness of the unseen powers of this world rail against the power of love and forgiveness being poured out upon those that are His.
But we aren’t asked to face and fight this battle alone. No, we, are given the same companion that filled Stephen, the same Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the tomb, the same power and authority that lived and moved in the lives of His apostles and disciples andsaints who have died in His name and faced persecution throughout the ages. Yes, we are promised the gift of His Holy Spirit, and that is the source of our Hope.
Acts 2:38 ESV
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
John 14:26 ESV
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Romans 8:26 ESV
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
1 Corinthians 6:19 ESV
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
Acts 1:8 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
So what is faith, if it is not a restored relationship with God through the gift of His Holy Spirit? Isn’t it a daily walk with the Lord, sharing in our lives, moment to moment, decision to decision, thought to thought, action to loving action?
But some of you will say that I’m speaking so high minded that I sound proud, or far away, or on some road that you cannot reach. But friend, I’m not talking about a burdensome chore of HAVING to talk with God, or HAVING to recite prayers, or HAVING to study the Word of God. I’m talking about a new heart that He gives us through the Holy Spirit where we will WANT to be in His presence.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
You see, it isn’t our striving to meet the requirements of some list of rules, otherwise we could take credit for earning it ourselves – and even if we did it, we would have to admit that we hated the law and only did it out of obligation, not because we loved the beauty of the law or God or others, but because we hoped to earn some reward for ourselves. But that is not the way of God, but is the way of men who try to build their own stairway to heaven, doing what seems right in v the eyes of men, but that in the end leads to destruction – because it is still centered on self, on pride, not on love – not filled with the Holy Spirit, the very divine nature and essence of God Almighty, who is righteous and just and powerful and Almighty also merciful and forgiving to the humble.
You see, faith is about understanding and demonstrating our position before Almighty God, not of a proud, honored savior of ourselves or of others – but as a humble servant at the foot of the cross, undeserving, unworthy, but recognized by God as worthy, as valuable, as having a purpose and a mission to fulfill through His power, through His Holy Spirit that lives in and manifests through us as vessels, as emissaries, as representatives of Christ on Earth.
And this relationship, this abiding with the Holy Spirit doesn’t produce pride and haughtiness, it produces humility and love. It produces the same servant’s heart that Jesus has towards the lost. Not one where we should look down upon the lost and broken but that we should love and serve them. And if a rebuke is to be given, it is for the proud, and the hypocrites, and the oppressors, and those who think themselves powerful and strong – because our safety is found in loving God and loving one another – in acknowledging our desperate need for a Savior.
Yes, if we love one another, it is because He first loved us – He gave us this new heart – He filled us with His Holy Spirit – He is guiding us and teaching us His ways. This isn’t religion that we practice, it is a relationship that we live – and the sweet aroma that it produces is love.
And if it produces love, then isn’t that the very anti-venom to anger? Isn’t that the very cute for hatred and bitterness and unforgiveness and jealousy and all kinds of footholds for the enemy? You see, we have not gotten off track from our topic of anger, in fact we have done exactly as we should, we have looked past the distraction and the trap of the enemy, we have handed it over to Him, and we have seen it crushed beneath the authority and power of His Holy Spirit that lives in us.
Do not fear anger, do not fear opposition, do not fear persecution – because if you fear God, you walk in His authority, you walk covered by His righteousness, you walk with Him in Spirit and Truth. And if this is you, friend, I bid you to GO – because we are on mission and there is a world in need of healing and salvation and redemption and deliverance that only this Good News of Jesus Christ can provide.
Go, love others in the best way that you can, by sowing the seed of His Holy Spirit into the lives of others.
But above all, sow Love.