There is a picture in my parents' house that is special to me. It is not one of me. It is not one I painted or took. It is a picture of the banquet table in heaven; a long table with golden plates and silverware and goblets at each place, and the table and chairs extending into the distance as far as the eye can see. It was given to my parents when I was a kid, and I remember studying it as a kid and thinking of what that will be like and who I will sit by and across from. However, that is not the whole story of why it is special to me.
You see, when I was young (and still sometimes today) I would allow my anger to get the better of me. When I was younger it would come out in tears, but when I hit 10 or 11 it began to come out in violent outbursts. Hitting a wall, kicking a ball, rarely hitting one of my siblings. (two of them were bigger than me!) So it happened that one day when I was probably 12 I allowed myself to get so angry that I grabbed something in our living room and threw it across the room. In my "blind rage" I didn't see, nor did I care, what it would hit. In my horror I saw it fly out of my hands and ricochet off the picture of heaven. Thankfully, the picture stayed on the wall, but on close inspection you could see the damage that had been done. A little notch (so little only I could probably find it today) of white appeared where the projectile had marred forever this beautiful picture. And all because of me allowing my anger to turn into an act of sin.
David writes in Psalm 4:4, "Be angry and do not sin." Note that it does not say "do not get angry". I am thankful for that. There are times when injustice, my own pride, and the sin so prevalent in our world makes me angry, sometimes extremely angry. It is important to realize that sin enters the picture when we allow that anger to fester and overflow in actions and words that are harmful to ourselves and to others. David is saying "handle your anger correctly".
Verse 4 continues, "on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still." Reflect on what? For me, the first thing is "Is this worth my time to be angry over?" Is this some misunderstanding that can be resolved by a simple conversation? Then go to the person and resolve it. The second thing to consider is "Did I bring this on myself?" There are times where my anger with others or situations comes from my own foolishness. Times of reflection and being still can allow us to see the truth of a situation.
In verse 5 David speaks of "offering sacrifices" and "trusting in the Lord". This is saying that there may be times I must seek forgiveness (offer sacrifices) of the other person or God. And the other thing David is saying is that I must trust God to handle those situations that cause me to rage.
You see, when we sin in our anger we harm or destroy something beautiful. Our relationships with spouses, family, friends, or coworkers. It can leave a scar like that picture that still hangs in my parents's house. If you have sinned in your anger, take time today to seek forgiveness and restore what has been harmed.