‘In your anger do not sin…[or] give the devil a foothold.’Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV
It’s important to notice that, even as Christians, we still anger. Ephesians 4:26 says ‘in your anger do not sin’ (NIV). It’s not the feeling that’s the problem, it’s what we do with it that can be harmful. Anger is a normal, sometimes healthy response to something that seems wrong. Just read Matthew 21, where we see Jesus flipping tables and cursing trees. Jesus got angry, and sometimes, letting people know about our feelings like He did is necessary. It’s important, though, for us to learn to recognise when that is. We should test whether our anger is righteous on God’s behalf, or whether we’re at risk of escalating a situation that calls for quiet patience and grace. The only way to know is to call for God to lead you. One valuable step is using the inbuilt quarter of a second that experts say our brain provides us with before reacting in stressful situations. A quarter of a second doesn’t sound like much, but it is long enough to turn to God. Even when we’re face to face with someone difficult, God has wired our brains to allow us to call out and let Him take the lead. With His strength, we can train ourselves to use that quarter of a second to pray ‘God, help’ while we take a breath. That two-word prayer invites the Holy Spirit into whatever we say and do next. He helps direct our conscience and lets us know whether our response is right. It might be difficult to remember to use that quarter of a second, and we may not always get it right even when we do, but with practice and prayer, calling on God first will become automatic. What Now? Practise calling on God before speaking as much as you can today. Whether you’re in a difficult situation or just a normal conversation, have a go at taking that quarter-second to think ‘God, help’ before you speak.