Sins of anger. Paul next turns his sights on manifestations of anger, which destroy community: “anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” “Anger’ refers to a chronic feeling rather than outbursts of “rage”. More subtle expressions of anger ooze out in “malice” we bear others and the spiteful potshots we take to defame their reputations. “Filthy language from your lips” does not simply refer to curse words. It has in mind the abusive language we use to hurt others. Christian speech is not determined solely by whether it is true or false but by whether it helps or harms another.
“Do not lie to each other” surprisingly caps the list. Adlai Stevenson, a U.S. senator and presidential candidate, once said, “A lie is an abomination unto the Lord and a very present help in trouble.” In Ephesians 4:25 putting off falsehood and speaking the truth are linked to all being “members of one body'” and lying is rooted in an attempt to gain advantage over others. It therefore is at odds with Christian love even though Christians have been known to concoct lies to deceive others (see Acts 5:1-11). Such deceit reveals a lack of mutual trust, undermines community, and breeds anger. (David E. Garland)
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your[a]life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
- How does a constant attitude of seething anger build up in a person?
- How does this wellspring of anger manifest itself in language we use?
- How is most human anger triggered by a fear?
- What are you afraid of?
- Can you bring the fears that are connected to your anger to God?