In the middle of this week on forgiveness, we’re taking time today to look at what it means to live a lifestyle of continual forgiveness. Over time, as we open our hearts and allow God to do a continued work in us, we’re equipped to develop a new normal, a new way of living. So today we’re looking at how we can live with a constant openness towards forgiveness, equipped to both receive it and offer it, that unforgiveness would no longer have space in our hearts.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27
Kyrie Eleison | Vineyard Worship
SEPTEMBER 2017 Song of the Month is “Kyrie Eleison,” the title track from KYRIE ELEISON – Anchour Sessions! For FREE chord charts and audio download of “Kyrie Eleison,” visit http://vineyardsongs.com/!
Ephesians 4:26-27 offers revelation on an important and often unknown spiritual principle. Scripture says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” When we allow anger to fester within us for days, weeks, months, and sometimes years, we allow the enemy to gain a foothold in our lives that robs us of the abundant life provided in Christ. In Ephesians, Paul is clear that anger in itself is not a sin; it’s when we allow anger to remain instead of choosing grace and forgiveness that we break God’s command.
When people wrong us the natural response is to be angry, and that is all right! Jesus himself was often angry. Matthew 21:12 tells us, “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.” Jesus was consistently angry with those who claimed to know God and took advantage of others. Nothing made him more angry than pharisaical people. But Jesus also modeled forgiveness of the highest form. Rather than being filled with anger and allowing it to fester inside of him, he offered his life out of his love for the very people who shouted, “Crucify him!” and “Free Barabbas!”
The truth is that our anger is often a symptom of our brokenness rather than the result of the wrongs of others. Often, anger is rooted in our own insecurities and pride rather than a righteous anger for justice. It’s for this reason the Bible tells us over and over again to be slow to anger. James 1:19-20 says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” And Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”
The Lord desires to make us a people filled with his grace and compassion over our own anger and prideful sense of justice. God, who was deserving of everything, gave it all up to show us grace. Jesus is the rightful King of kings and Lord of lords. But rather than claiming what was rightfully his own, he humbled himself before a Roman prefect and a rebellious people and gave up his own life. And now he asks you to do the same. Jesus is asking you to lay down your rights and pride to pursue a higher calling of unconditional love. He’s asking you to show grace where none is deserved. He’s asking you to offer mercy where there should rightfully be none. And he’s asking you to forgive others so that heaven might come to earth through your actions. Commit to living a lifestyle of continual forgiveness today, and allow God to work through you to bring salvation and restored relationship to a world in desperate need of a Savior.
1 Peter 2:23 says, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” May we become like Jesus and offer grace and forgiveness to others who are undeserving. May we be reflections of his love by being slow to anger and quick to offer mercy. May his light shine through us today into a world wrought with darkness and pain.
Extended Reading: Ephesians 4 or watch The Bible Project’s video on Ephesians.