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.
House of Blues is a chain of live music halls and restaurants. I didn’t grow up in a House of Blues, but I did grow up in a House of Anger. There were volcanic, explosive outbursts of rage, covering everyone and everything with the molten lave of burning words. In addition to the yelling and screaming that went along with these eruptions, they were seasoned with a collection of colorful curse words that were used as punctuation marks on the person who was being used as a verbal punching bag.
And then there was that slow, simmering, steaming anger that sort of just sat there, stewing for a long time. It was always just beneath the surface, moved to the back burner on the stove of life with the temperature set to low. And even though it was not exploding, it was still there. It affected everyone and everything.
In my house growing up, there were certain topics and people that you didn’t bring up at dinner. But if someone was foolish enough to bring it up, you could bet all the money in your pockets that there was going to be an emotional blast followed by a verbal rant.
The kind of anger in this verse is like that, lit by certain actions or words. These triggers are well known, but nothing is done about them. And once released, the anger was not interested in fixing a problem, correcting a behavior, redeeming a sinner.
Now, we love to talk about the love of God. In case you didn’t pick up on it, I’m one of those people. For too long we’ve ducked away from God because we’re afraid that he wants nothing better than to smack us upside the head, sending us flying to the other side of eternity.
But there’s another side to God. Another side to love. Because it’s me, I’m going to say something that you might not like or agree with. But I’m saying it anyway. Here goes.
The other side of love is hate. And God’s anger is a part of his love, part of what’s good. There, I said it. Are you still with me? Here’s what it means.
I love Mary Ann. I’ll do just about anything for her. She’s in my thoughts and heart all the day long. But, if anyone hurts her, if anyone mistreats her, if anyone is rude to her, watch out. I immediately change from the kind, compassionate, calm Chet that we’ve all come to know and love, into a raving lunatic. I don’t care who they are, how big they are, you don’t mess with my Mary Ann.
Did you know that God says the same thing?
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good
If you’re going to sincerely love someone, you must hate the opposite. If you love someone, you’re going to hate anyone and anything that is out to hurt that love of your life.
God is like that too. His love endures forever. But he hates sin. He hates it because it’s completely against who he is, what he has done, all he has given. Sin is a slap in the face. But in his grace and love, he sent Jesus to the cross to pay for our sin.
If you’re looking for an example of how God hates, read about Jesus healing the man with a shriveled hand in Mark 3. When Jesus sees the stubborn hearts of the religious leaders of his day, “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts.”
The loving and compassionate Jesus gets angry. This was a good and godly anger. Not the kind that flies off the handle, but the anger that is not only enraged, but also crushed at how unloving they were.
This is the kind of God that we all want. This is the kind of God that we all need. A loving, compassionate heavenly Father, who reaches out to us every moment of every day. And yet, he hates evil. He hates people that hurt his children. He defends his own children. He protects them. He covers them and gives them shelter.
Don’t you want someone who loves you like this? But his love doesn’t end with good feelings. His love goes the extra mile. He protects and defends. He’s more sensitive and protective about us then we are about protecting our eyes.
God’s love is so great that he hates anyone and anything that hurts his children. That’s about as comforting a thought as there is in the whole world. Can you claim it as your own?
What are some of the things that God has asked you to “put off?” How ya doing?
Explain why it’s tough to think about yourself as part of the Body of Christ.
Where is it easier for the enemy to “get a foothold” in your life?