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Letting the Sun Go Down on Wrath

By Watchman | March 17, 2009

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, if not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

“…do not sin, and do not let the sun go down on your wrath…” (Eph. 4:26)

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted,  forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (John 13:34-35.)

An e-mail acquaintance of mine recounted to me a dispute between two friends that is driving what appears to be a permanent wedge between them.  The cause was a relatively trivial annoyance that could have been almost immediately diffused had not pride taken hold of the two; with one refusing to apologize, and one unwilling to continue the friendship without the said apology.  I woke up this morning with this story on my heart, as God led me to the awareness of how common (and unscriptural) are these disputes that disturb our peace and dissolve friendships.  The Scriptures quoted above were not directed at heathens, pagans, and the ungodly.  They were aimed at us: the believers in Christ Jesus; we who have promised to follow the path of righteousness and to obey His covenant laws.  I’ve written before about the need to forgive those who have in one way or another abused or harmed us, but I haven’t before considered the need to address the petty squabbles and irritations that arise in our daily lives, and how they affect our relationships with ourselves and with the Lord.

“…if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.  First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)

These words of Jesus’ remind us how important it is to love each other and submit to God’s teaching about our relationships with others.  He knew that when we go to bed angry at someone, we will most likely awaken with a renewed and strengthened awareness of our grievances.  When that occurs, a little piece of the submission we offer to Christ has been turned to rebellion.  He does not want our sacrifices if they are not accompanied by contrite hearts laid at His feet for cleansing and renewal.  Swallowing our pride and humbly seeking the reconciliation of our relationships with those estranged from us must be accomplished before we approach the throne of God with our prayers and petitions for forgiveness; before we approach the altar at church for communion and worship.

“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  Up to seven times?’  Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’ ” (Matthew 18:21-22)

Wow!  490 times–another way of saying  you don’t stop forgiving your brother!  And guess what:  I didn’t tamper with or delete any of the text.  He did not say, “Up to seventy times seven, so long as your brother admits you were in the right.”  He did not say “Up to seventy times seven, as long as he apologizes nicely.”  Jesus was saying that we are to grant others forgiveness freely and without measure, just as He grants it to us.  Let me tell you, brothers and sisters, this isn’t always easy and will probably entail a great deal of effort to do, sometimes over a long period of time.  But this is what Jesus asks of us.  Sometimes, it can be accomplished immediately by putting our grievances in proper perspective.  Some of the things we become most irate about are often not  very important in the scheme of things.  When we take out the “me” element, we may see that our brother’s transgressions weren’t really all that diabolical to begin with.   We also need to look at the Lord’s reason for putting certain people in our lives.  He gives us our friends as gifts; to support us, to have fellowship and recreation with, and to share our joys and sorrows.  We must not be too quick to throw these gifts away, when a little thoughtful reflection would show us how important others are to our well-being.  Most of all, we need to remember that we are to reflect our relationship with God in our interactions with our friends and families.  When we refuse to surrender our pride and be reconciled to those around us, we are acting in direct rebellion against God.  If we refuse to forgive others, He will not forgive us.  If we say we love God but will not extend our hand of friendship to other believers, regardless of the circumstances, the Scriptures say that we lie.  How do we please God in our relationships?  Paul said it:  Be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving.  Remember that there is great power in the tongue, and that it can be used for both good and evil.  Don’t hold on to petty resentments.  Concentrate on what first drew you to a person rather than on the single thoughtless word or act, or personality trait, that has caused your annoyance.    Remember that you are a child of the most high God, and that you walk in the light!



Topics: According to Scripture, Anger and Forgiveness, Kingdom Living | No Comments »