In Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Church he encouraged them to put off the old self and to put on the new self. The tense of the verb in Greek is present perfect, which means it involves an ongoing and continuous action. Paul outlines attitudes and behaviors that need to be continuously “put on” and others that need to be continuously surrendered, and over the next few “encouragements” we will look at these and how they apply to our walk of recovery.
First Paul gives us the imperative, “Be angry, but sin not” (Ephesians 4: 26-27). The Greek word for anger used here isparorgismos, which means to fully feel your feeling of anger. Paul further states, “But do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” This instruction isn’t meant to be taken literally about resolving angry feelings before nightfall, as some may believe. The instruction refers to hanging onto your anger in an unhealthy way. The word Paul uses here for anger is orge, which means an abiding resentment, held in, or seeking revenge.
Being angry isn’t the problem; how we express our anger is more the problem. Healthy anger takes a minute to a minute and half to share, or at least not a really long time. If it is expressed explosively in a rage that attacks the character of another person, then we are seeking more to hurt and push that person away, not share our feelings of anger and why we are angry.
When we recognize our anger and share it with the one we are angry toward, that exchange has the potential of bringing the relationship into a more intimate connection. It may be uncomfortable to share angry feelings or to hear them, but the interaction is authentic and biblically sanctioned.
On our journey of recovery we are learning to put on the healthy expression of authentic feelings and take off the destructive expression of rage and its internalized counterpart, which is resentment. How are you doing with that process today?
Ted Baldick, Ph.D.
Healing for Men workshop leader