The Christian life is one of great tensions. Grace and truth. Mercy and justice. We live in the tension of these great ideas and concepts. Many of our theological debates center on which side is to have priority.
In Ephesians 4:17–32 we see that this tension goes beyond belief. The very actions of the Christ follower is a life in tension. In this section Paul admonishes believers to “put off” their old selves and “put on” the new self. What is fascinating is that the new self is in some ways the old held in tension.
Verses 26 and 27 say this,
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
(Ephesians 4:26–27 ESV)
We often think of anger as being inherently sinful. How can anger be OK? Aren’t we supposed to be nice? You can’t really be both can you? This tension of “be angry and do not sin” is an example of the inherent tension in the Christian life. There is a way to be angry and holy.
The key here is, “do not let the sun go down on your anger.” The tension is that of forgiveness. When we hold on to our anger too long it becomes sin and gives “opportunity to the devil.”
Anger apart from grace and forgiveness is not holy, but sin.
Paul summarizes this idea in verse 32,
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32 ESV)
Notice that Paul says “be kind” and not “be nice.” This is an important distinction. Kindness is imbued with truth. A good physician is not nice, he is kind. A nice physician will put your comfort above your well-being. A kind physician will always place your well-being above your comfort.
Kindness is a tension of truth and grace.
Are you willing to live in tension?