must be nipped in the bud.

Ephesians 4:25–32 (NIV)

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “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. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Here Paul gives us some practical advice about how to fight the battle between the old self and the new self.

First off, recognize the power of anger. Don’t give it time to feed on itself and grow. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

If you’re going to conquer your emotions with discipline, do it promptly. Most importantly, don’t give your emotions a sleep cycle to run amok.

Secondly, control your tongue. Speech has a way of causing trouble. Even when words are right, they can be misunderstood. Thus a “safety margin” is appropriate here. When in doubt, stick a cork in it.

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
    and discerning if they hold their tongues. —Proverbs 17:28 (NIV)

But Paul expands his application of a safety margin to forms of anger. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Many of these are related to speech.

That’s an interesting connection.

Anger has a way of loosening our tongues. It’s a deadly combination. Who has never said something in anger that they regretted later?

So, the lessons of this passage lead to a delicately balanced strategy for dealing with anger. Don’t be too quick to speak, yet don’t wait too long to deal with your anger either.

Recognize it. Stick a cork in it. Pray about it. Address it. Overcome it.

The weekly study guides, which include all five devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.