We have all experienced it at one time or another. The accelerated heart rate…the flushing color of red that rushes to our cheeks…the words of spitfire that threaten to erupt from our mouth like lava from a volcano. Yes, we all know what it is like to be angry. During these moments, it very easy for us to fall into sin through our words, actions, and attitudes. That’s why the Bible tells us to be angry and not to sin. To be sure, there are things in life that should make us angry–exploitation of children, blasphemy, and blatant injustice. There is such a thing as righteous indignation. Yet most of the things that make me angry are those things that happen to me. Self-preservation makes me a fighter. When we’re offended, our first instinct is not to turn the other cheek.
David knew what it was to be angry. He had been unfairly attacked by one who had tried to usurp his throne. David’s instructions in Psalm 4 are counterintuitive. I find at least five: First, be angry, but don’t sin. When we have been wronged, anger is an emotion that we can’t help but experience, but this doesn’t justify a sinful expression. Second, don’t be hasty. It is easy to rush to judgment over the sins of others all while forgetting our own. We are quick to act in haste when we are angry. Take some time to cool off. Third, hold your tongue. Hurtful words can be said in anger. People may forgive the things we say, but they seldom ever forget the things we say. David counsels us to be still! That way, we won’t say things that we later regret. Fourth, worship God. It may be hard to pray when you are angry, but worship will help you have a better perspective. Fifth, trust in God. Anger often leads us to take matters into our own hands. Someone says, “When I get mad, I get even!” Faith means that I commit the situation to the Lord, no matter how upset it has made me. Jesus died to save me from the grip of unrighteous anger, and His gospel is sufficient for me.
The next time you are angry, try to remember these five simple steps. Be angry, and sin not!