Shut the Door on Anger
"'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." Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)
I was alone downstairs in my home — at least I thought I was, until noises from the cellar startled me. From the corner of my eye, I saw something move. Taking a big gulp, I looked up to see eyes staring at me from the cellar door. Fear gripped me, and I screamed for my husband.
Peering out from behind Dale, I could see a long snake hanging firmly from the top of the door. Dale grabbed it and pulled it off. I watched from on top of the table as he juggled the snake's weight toward the front door and flung it outside.
With a sigh of relief, I gathered myself and sat back down to work. Ellie, my youngest daughter, came into the kitchen a few minutes later and pointed at the same door. "Mom, there's another one." Swallowing hard, I turned to see she was right.
We've lived in our home for 20 years and never had a snake indoors before then. It turned out Dale accidentally left the crawl space door under the house open in the fall. The snakes saw it as a welcome sign and took up residence. Once winter was over, they decided to go exploring. Thankfully, we haven't seen another snake in the house since.
That night, as I thought about that open crawl space door, Ephesians 4:26-27 came to mind: "'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."
The open door in my house was much like the foothold referred to in that passage. A foothold in our lives is an open door of opportunity Satan uses to gain access.
Scripture cautions us to guard the door of our hearts because Satan is always looking for a way in (1 Peter 5:8).
Many times we don't realize he's gotten a foothold until anger and anxiety stare us in the eyes and say: Here I am, now what are you gonna do about it? We can choose to ignore it, be afraid of it or engage in a battle that will define our lives.
A good starting point is to take a look at our thoughts and emotions. Is there someone we harbor resentment toward? A situation we replay over and over in our mind, causing untold anxiety? A wound that is still sore, years later?
These are indicators of unresolved anger — anger that has been carried from one day to the next to the next, maybe even for a lifetime. The enemy uses these open doors to come between us and God, tear apart relationships and hurt our Christian witness (John 13:35).
To avoid these destructive conditions, Scripture tells us to quickly get rid of anger so the enemy has no foothold. I don't know about you, but I don't want to live with snakes in my home or an enemy in my life. So how do we close the open doors?
- Trust God to be your defender. Holding a grudge sets us up to think our anger will avenge the wrong against us. But it doesn't; only God can do that (Romans 12:19).
- Even if you never receive an apology, forgive anyway. Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (NIV). This verse helps me to recall God's great forgiveness for my own sin.
- If possible, follow the prescription of reconciliation in Matthew 18:15-17.
- Desire for God to be glorified more than you long to be justified (1 Peter 2:12).
Imagine what my house would be like if we left the door open. I wouldn't want to live there! Every now and then I double-check the crawl space door, just to be sure it's closed. And I double-check my heart for any footholds of anger.
Lord, please help me be aware of open doors and to close them through trust, reconciliation, forgiveness and honor. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 1:19b-20, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." (NIV)
1 Peter 5:8, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Are you holding on to any anger or grudges? Ask God to forgive you and heal your heart.
Do you need to ask someone for forgiveness for your actions? Can you do that today?