Ryan Paulson | 04 March 2020
"... In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold."
Over Christmas break we visited my family back in Colorado. We love getting outdoors and hiking, but because it waswinter and snowy, we had to find indoor activities to entertain us. One thing we did was go to a rock-climbing gym and while climbing the wall, I was reminded of how important it is to find the right footholds. Where we placed our feet in the holds either allowed us to scale the wall or led to our downfall (quite literally).
When Paul writes to the Ephesian church, he uses this same “foothold” imagery. Listen to what he wrote in Ephesians 4:26-27 … In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Do not give the devil a foothold. The picture Paul is painting is of a place that the devil feels very comfortable. An environment he can flourish in.
When people talk about spiritual warfare, they tend to go to the extreme and the phenomenal. However, in this passage, Paul claims that one of the ways we fend off the devil’s activity in our lives is by refusing to hold onto our anger. Forgiveness is one of the ways we engage in spiritual warfare, and bitterness is one of the things that creates an environment within our soul where the devil feels at home. The devil finds a foothold to scale the scaffolding of your life through anger.
Most of the time I’m angry, I feel justified in my anger. I have a tendency to think that my anger is “righteous anger.” Some of it may be, but what if our initial reaction was always to assume that our anger was something to be let go of, rather than held on to? The call from Paul to the Ephesian church is clear: if you
hold onto your anger, the devil holds onto you and makes your life a living hell.
LIVE THE STORY: As we journey with Jesus toward the cross and resurrection, today’s practice is simple: identify areas of anger in your life. Don’t just look for the exuberant outbursts, pay attention to the subtle complaining and the rhythms of your heart. When you identify your anger, the invitation is to confess it by naming it in front of Jesus, and then to repent from it, which means that we change our mind and decide that holding that anger isn’t the way to abundant life.