Text: “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.”
Good morning, short-fuse Christian! If you are in any manner afflicted as your unworthy author is today, you are grossly afflicted with the blight of a very short fuse as to temperament. Having a short temper, being too quick to respond to aggravations, reacting too swiftly to stimuli from other people’s negative remarks, insults, or physical actions – is a character trait that every genuine Christian thus afflicted must combat day and daily in the power of the Spirit of God.
Oh the times when I, over the past 38 years of Christ’s Salvation, have totally regretted the shortness of my fuse in reaction to negativity from others! If you also are afflicted with a quick temper – read on and be comforted – the Lord God has good news and encouragement for both you and me.
“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the Devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)
“Be ye angry.” Taken on its own, this first part of the verse from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians can be read in at least two ways – Christian, you have got to be angry! You and I MUST be angry at sin; at our three main adversaries – the world; the flesh; and the Devil. If we are not angry at such anti-Christian concepts, we are certainly not genuine Spirit-quickened Christians! If we can live quite happily and unaffected by sin and the causes of sin in our daily lives, then we can never be fit to dwell in a Heaven that is Holy. This seems very clear to me, is it as clear to you, Reader?
Then there is the daily and continual aggravations of sin and it’s manifestations that take place all around us daily: IF God the Holy Spirit lives within us, as Bible-believing Christians must believe He does, then it follows that the new ‘born again’ nature within us must detest most of what our eyes are beholding in the world all around us, in an increasingly apostate ‘church’ and an increasingly anti-Christian environment. Fact. The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Godhead, will NEVER get to like, or tolerate sin and ungodliness! Thus, true Christians must get angry every day if God Himself lives within us. This is clearly the Divine logic of our lives.
“And sin not...” This second part of the verse from Paul’s letter to the Ephesian believers is a much harder command to understand and obey. The true Christian believer cannot trade in the unsaved, unregenerate world’s currency - we cannot revile when we are reviled; we cannot physically abuse when we are physically abused; we cannot seek revenge when we are slighted, and slandered, and wronged by the reprobate populations who live cheek to jowl with us in society. We dare not, in our hearts and minds, even ‘...let the sun go down upon our wrath...’, nor, ‘...give place to the Devil...’! Obedience for true believers is a very real and daily BATTLE.
Verse 8. “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. To be fully assured of ‘good comfort in bad times’, therefore, personal anger and personal wrath must not only be felt towards all the sin and evil that we encounter day and daily, but outward anger and personal wrath cannot be shown in our actions!
To live with such an obvious and paradoxical mind-set would be totally impossible for us to do – if we did not have God the Holy Spirit living within us to help us; to Spiritually restrain us from angry and vengeful retaliatory actions. Praise God, His love helps to constrain us!
“For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if One died for all, then were all dead: and that He died for all, that they which live (Spiritually live in Christ) should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:13-15)
Therefore, we are called by God to ‘..be angry at sin...’; yet not to sin in retaliation; to leave all righteous and just retribution against sinners to the only truly righteous and just God, in Christ Jesus, Who will in His own time and manner punish our enemies.
Verse 8. “Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. Evil may be done by fretting at the prosperity of wicked men, or by imitating them, doing as they do, in hope of being prosperous as they are.” (John Gill 1697-1771)
“We are cautioned not to envy the wicked, either worldly prosperity or the success of their plots against the righteous, and the reasons here given respect these two temptations severally:— Good people have no reason to envy the worldly prosperity of wicked people, nor to grieve or be uneasy at it, because the prosperity of the wicked will soon be at an end. Evil-doers shall be cut off by some sudden stroke of divine justice in the midst of their prosperity; what they have got by sin will not only flow away from them (Job 20:28), but they shall be carried away with it. See the end of these men (Psalm 73:17), how dear their ill-gotten gain will cost them, and you will be far from envying them or from being willing to espouse their lot, for better, for worse. Their ruin is sure, and it is very near” (Matthew Henry, 1662-1714, Commentary on the Psalms)
Verse 9. But those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. Passion, according to Bunyan’s parable, has his good things first, and they are soon over; Patience has his good things last, and they last forever.” (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 179)
Thought: True, Bible-believing Christians, no matter how utterly fallible we are, shall have ‘good comfort in bad times’. Knowing the Sovereignty of our Lord God, we are empowered of Him to wait with fortitude the joy of our Eternal inheritance in Christ, ‘...all things..’ working together for our good.