Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry.
Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
-Ephesians 4:26 (The Message)
You may have heard of Jack Rebney. He is also known as "The Angriest Man in the World", having earned this designation after film out-takes from his Winnebago commercials made their way to the Internet. If you look him up, I'll warn you: the language is explicit. The smallest miscues are followed by invective; his skin takes on new shades. Indeed, he is angry.
But is his anger justified? Is it healthy? It doesn't appear so. He misreads scripts and stumbles through progressions. His mistakes may be frustrating, but they shouldn't lead to rage.
We've all walked that line. We mess up, or someone offends us, and we straddle that line between frustration and rage.
Anger has a tendency to permeate, to soak, to overwhelm as water does a sponge, and then, after one good squeeze, to erupt. It pours forth and affects all caught in the spray. Anger is a powerful emotion, motivating both evil, and good. It is the channeling of anger, and the accompanying justification, that is determinative for its designation as destructive or generative. Anger effects our relational abilities--our relationships to our neighbors, to God, and even our understanding of self. Therefore, anger is an emotion that must be channeled aright.
Paul's words in Ephesians are instructive: anger can be justified, and healthy. Jesus was angry at injustice. But anger can also be harbored to destructive ends. It can consume and destroy us from the inside out. It can lead to the dissipation and dissolution of relationships. And it can lead us down a path of spiritual death and destruction, also known as "Devil's Lane".
Examine your anger. Is it always justified? Are the things that trigger your anger better off ignored or forgiven outright? Is there a relationship that is suffering because you are always angry?
Turn it over to God. Give up control. Forgive. When anger motivates you to seek justice, let it loose. But when you let it loose, let it go. Don't retain it till sundown. Don't stay angry. Seek reconciliation.
Keep to the path that leads to righteousness. Channel anger aright.
Father, sometimes I become angry. I can be an angry person. If I have any anger harbored in my heart in unhealthy ways, enable me to release it, giving it to you. Heal me, and provide me with the grace needed to forgive and to offer healing and to seek renewed community with those whom my anger has hurt. Direct my steps, and place them upon your path. Amen.