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Our anger and the sun
- Jacob Ninan
"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil" (Ep.4:26,27). In wanting to obey this some people get into a frenzy trying to set things right in time if they have got angry with someone just before sunset. Some others who get angry after sunset console themselves thinking that they have time till next sunset to set things right! How silly! These people are going wrong because they take words of the Bible word by word, without bothering to consider context, style, genre, figures of speech, etc. For them every word in the Bible (except for those which are obviously from the Devil or some wicked people) is a word of God to be obeyed. They don't even take into consideration the fact that the Bible was inspired by God but written through human beings, bringing in a certain human element also into the language.
In the above case it should be clear that Paul is using a figure of speech when he talks about the setting of the sun, intending only to convey the meaning that if we get angry we should control ourselves or settle things as soon as possible. If we hold on to our anger (even if we hide it in our heart without expressing it, turning it into resentment, grudge, complaint, bitterness, etc.) we might give the Devil a point of contact to trouble us further with. So it is important that as soon as we become aware of our anger rising up within us, we must recognise it and deal with it in the right way. The wrong way, of course, is to express it without control, damaging others and us in the process.
How many sincere Christians go wrong in interpreting the Bible because they take an entirely literal approach! Another bloomer is where someone thinks that God's will for everyone is to prosper, be healthy and to prosper in the soul quoting 3Jn.2 (KJV). It is because they believe it is God's word for all, and don't realise that even though it was inspired by God to be included in the Bible, it is just a common greeting and best wishes from one man to another in a private letter! It cannot be taken as a promise at all!
God's word has been given to us not to be taken as a set of rules to be obeyed but in order that through it we can get to know God. It is a means God uses to reveal Himself to us as we read it in reverence and love. But many people read it as if the words have to be examined and taken as we would study a book of law (Jn.5:39,40). Sometimes the details which one can derive from the words bury the simple meaning behind those words. For example many try to squeeze meaning out of every detail of a parable when all the intention Jesus had was to illustrate a simple point.
The word of God is there for even simple people to believe and understand. But it is not there for people to try out their mental skills to bring out meanings that God never intended (2Pe.1:20). Don't we need to read things in their context and in the context of the rest of the Bible too?