THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Monday, March 22nd
Read Ephesians 4:22-32.
Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…
I wish I could wrap up all my concerns at the end of the day and place them into God’s care. I would sleep much more soundly, wouldn’t you? God also wants this for us. All through the Bible we are invited to trust God instead of holding on to worry, fear, guilt, resentment, or yes, anger. These issues are hurtful to others, but they hurt our own souls as well. God is ready to help us with our anger and other provocations.
What an inspirational message this chapter from Ephesians holds for us! Our spiritual invitation for today is “do not let the sun go down on our anger,” but there are three other LET verses that clearly contribute to this instruction. Let’s look at the other Let verses in this passage for some other helpful suggestions. We will also look at the helpful verses Paul then uses to close out the passage.
~ So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another (verse 25).
Today I am moved by the word, “speak” in this verse. There have been a few times when I have shared concerns or dismay with another person through a text, note, or an email. Seldom has this communication gone very well. It takes courage to speak directly with someone about a disagreement or an issue, but when we share an honest and humble conversation, take time to listen and clarify, watch facial expressions and nonverbal gestures, we communicate so much better! And if we can hold this posture of “we are members of one another” we can approach our disagreements with mutual love and willingness to work together.
~ Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil (verses 26-27).
Jesus was angry at times. We also can claim that righteous anger to stand against wrongdoing, oppose injustice, or fight oppression. We are right to be angry when we have been hurt or mistreated. This verse reminds us though, that we are not to cling to our anger. When we do, we “make room for the devil.” When we cling, we allow ourselves time to fester, then plot a retaliation, think of a perfect retort, or decide to have nothing more to do with someone. When I hang on to anger, my soul becomes more distraught, my wounds grow deeper, and my recollection of the hurt becomes exaggerated. Today we are reminded to address and work to resolve our anger as soon as we can.
~ Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy (verse 28).
I can easily assume that those of you who are reading this today do not steal. You probably strive to work for an honest living and to share with the needy. But as we consider this verse for our own instruction, we know that some thievery occurs as people struggle to survive without the opportunity for decent education or employment. I wonder how much anger and resentment could be diminished – in both the thief and the victim – if we all worked for the betterment of one another.
~ Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear (verse 29).
Words have an incredible power to hurt. I imagine we all have heard words that we will never forget – words that have pierced our souls and left sensitive scars. May we ask the Spirit to guard our tongues, to pause our replies, and to grace us with mercy, compassion, and tenderness in our thoughts and words. May our words heal rather than wound, comfort rather than harm, soothe rather than irritate.
Finally, may we let the Spirit guide us to: Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you (verses 31-32). Amen. May this be so.
Our reading for tomorrow will be Philippians 2:1-11; 4:5.
Photo by Karen at Ft. Myers Beach, FL
Bible verses taken from https://classic.biblegateway.com/