Scripture Focus: In your anger, do not sin. Do not allow the sun to set while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:26
Many newer translations of Ephesians 4:26 read, “do not stay angry all day,” which is a reasonable interpretation of the instruction, “do not let the sun go down on your anger.” The sunset deadline was meant to reinforce the key concept: don’t hang on to your anger and your grievances; don’t carry them over from one day to the next. Instead, solve your problems and resolve your conflicts before the sun goes down --- today.
This key idea may be one of the most useful habits you’ll ever form as a couple. It is also one of the few biblical concepts that has been widely distributed into the lore and literature of marriage in our contemporary culture. Even couples who have never read the Bible, and could not locate this specific passage in Ephesians, may have heard of the practice of settling your issues before going to bed.
A very funny episode of the old Bob Newhart television show uses this exact scenario. Married couple Bob and Emily are mad at each other --- yet both partners have agreed to a habit of settling all issues before going to bed. No resolution means no bedtime! So we watch as the couple holds on to their anger, each certain of his or her rightness, as the night drags on and on. No spoiler alert here: Go ahead and watch the episode for yourself! You’ll enjoy watching a couple do their best to adhere to biblical wisdom.
Bringing this biblical instruction into your marriage can help you avoid the danger of carrying a grudge, nursing a grievance, or allowing bitterness to spring up in your heart. God knows --- bitterness can grow in our hearts like weeds in a garden, choking out the joy and the beauty that the garden should otherwise contain. We are wise to avoid letting bitterness take root in our minds and hearts, in our imaginations, or memories.
For your personal reflection:
Prayer: Lord, I know people who are bitter and angry – and I don’t want to become one of those people myself! I want to keep my heart tender and open to You, and tender and open to my life partner. Help us learn to resolve our conflicts when they occur, rather than nursing a grievance or carrying a grudge, holding onto anger in our hearts. Help us honor the principle you gave us here in Ephesians 4:26 --- resolution, before sunset!