Let's wrap up our conversation on the heart with one final area that is perhaps the most challenging of all.
We all get angry when we don't get what we want. Show me an angry person, and I'll show you a hurt person who didn't get something they wanted. They're angry because someone took something from them. Perhaps you've heard or even said something like this:
Is there a debt causing anger in you?
Paul presents a very intriguing word picture that illustrates how we are to deal with anger. In Ephesians 4:26-27, Paul's question is not, what caused you to become angry? Or how will you be paid back when you're angry? Rather he seems to be more concerned with moving forward. So his question is more along the lines of, "How long do you want to carry the anger with you?"
In other words, how long are you going to allow the people who have hurt you to control your life? Will another month do? Another year? Another season of your life? How long?
Paul's suggestion? Hold on only as long as the sun is shining. He says, "Don't let the sun go down on your anger." Or to put it another way, today should be the day that you quit holding onto your hurt and anger. After that he lays out the key to getting rid of it: choosing to forgive.
When you chose to forgive, you're canceling the debt. They can't pay you anyway. How could they? This is why Paul says, "... forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you." (Eph 4:32)
Jesus had no part in any of our sin. He was blameless. You and I are the ones who had major debt. We all had open accounts, and according to the records we owed big time. It did not look good for us. In fact, Paul says that we were dead in our sins and trespasses. (Eph 2:1) We owed God a lot. And we could not pay him back.
So you know what God decided? He said, "You know what? According to my records, they owe me. But they can't pay me back—there's no way. I think I'll just close the book. I'll cancel the account and declare them 'Forgiven.' Why? Not because they've paid me back or made things right. But because I love them, 'Debt cancelled.'" Then in His generosity, He paid the price with His own Son. God in Christ has forgiven you.
The essence of forgiveness is declaring, "You don't owe me anymore." Surely what God has done for you, you can do for the person who has wronged you.
Here are a few questions for reflection:
Notes from the Staff @The Woods