“Let it go. Let it go. Can’t hold it back any more.” Those of you who have children or grandchildren most likely know these lyrics all too well. That wonderful character from Frozen – is it Anna or Elsa? – has reached the breaking point and she is tired of being the good girl always holding back the rage that is within. I bet Rogers and Freud and Jung could have a field day psycho-analyzing this young lady, but if the truth were told, we have all felt this way at some point in our lives. We just get so fed up with whatever our circumstances we find ourselves in, and we just want to “let it go.” The sad thing is that we often do let it go. We let our anger get the best of us, and the words fly. Or in some cases, the fists fly. When this happens, the damage is done, and depending on what happens next, the damage can be irreparable. It doesn’t have to be, but it is.
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, anger is justified. Jesus was angry when He cleared out the money-changers in the Temple. The apostle Paul even tells us that there are appropriate times to be angry, but he adds this stipulation to his statement, “and sin not.” When we see Christians being slaughtered by ISIS, we should be angry – and sin not. When we hear about babies being murdered in abortion mills, we should be angry – and sin not. When we know people are doing things that harm the fellowship within the body of Christ, we should be angry – and sin not.
You see, anger is an emotion created by God. Without it, men would never be motivated to right the wrongs perpetrated by the bullies in our society. Women would sit back and allow abusive husbands to continue to beat them. People would allow petty tyrants to rule over them and never throw off their chains of oppression. So anger is a valid, necessary emotion given to us by God Himself, but with the stipulation – “and sin not.”
Our problem is that we like to justify our actions when they are not justifiable. We try to rationalize our emotions when they are not rational. We excuse ourselves when God holds us accountable. So is there a rule of thumb by which we can judge whether or not our anger is positive? For example, was it justifiable when this man killed people at Planned Parenthood because they were murdering babies? Absolutely not! So how do we make this determination? As one preacher said, “The believer must be an angry person—angry with those who sin and do wrong and who are unjust and selfish in their behavior. However, a justified anger is always disciplined and controlled; it is always limited to those who do wrong either against God or against others. The distinguishing mark between justified and unjustified anger is that a justified anger is never selfish; it is never shown because of what has happened to oneself. It is an anger that is purposeful. The believer knows that he is angry for a legitimate reason, and he seeks to correct the situation in the most peaceful way possible.”
“And sin not.” Do you realize that is not the end of the verse? Ephesians 4:26 ends this way: “…do not let the sun go down on your anger.” In other words, let it go. Anger is sin when it is misdirected. Anger is sin when it is held in our hearts as a grudge. Anger is sin when we refuse to let it go – even when we believe that the anger is justified. Even when the anger IS justified. It must be let go because it eats away at us emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. It destroys our relationships with fellow believers as well as with non-believers. And it disrupts our fellowship with God. Peter asked Jesus, “How many times must I forgive? Seven?” To which Jesus replied, “Not seven. Seventy times seven” (which means an infinite amount of times). As Christians, we are supposed to be known as a people who is forgiven and who forgives. So…
“Let it go. Let it go. Don’t hold that grudge anymore.” Well, it probably won’t be as popular as the original, but you get the idea.