Faith Matters

Avoid anger, choose grace

With tensions high in the area, a woman passes a bag of food underneath the Lanark Way gate as she gives a helping hand to 'the other side'. Picture by Mal McCann
Rev Andrew Watson

PEOPLE get angry and frustrated and then often say or do foolish, destructive things.

I get angry with those people and maybe I say or do something I shouldn't. Then you get angry at me and say something you'll later regret.

We can all feel cross at times, there's plenty of reason. But we have to be careful how we handle it.

Listen to some advice from Paul the Apostle writing in the New Testament: "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you're still angry and do not give the devil a foothold" (Ephesians 4:26).

Holding on to and nursing our feelings of hurt and indignation opens the door to the demon of bitterness and the host of unpleasant things that accompany it.

We raise our voice, shake our fist, utter curses against those we think are to blame and the next thing property is burning and someone's son or daughter lies injured in hospital or dead in the street.

Better, with God's help, to do as Jesus teaches and forgive those who anger us, as we hope to be forgiven our offences against heaven.

Release the resentment, let it go. Perhaps take the opportunity to talk about the difference with civility and respect, grow in understanding, seek common good.

This is challenging, but much better than being consumed by corrosive anger and hatred.

A firework explodes during clashes at the Lanark Way peace wall in west Belfast on April 7. Picture by AP Photo/Peter Morrison

The recent violent disturbances on the streets of Belfast made headlines around the world.

While it didn't make the headlines, at the same time there was a church in the same city whose members filled a table in their gateway with free food for anyone from anywhere who might be facing financial difficulty.

"Where sin increased, grace increased all the more," wrote the Apostle Paul (Romans 5:20).

For now there will be darkness, but there is also light, so we have a choice.

Which will we choose to nurture in our hearts - bitterness or grace?

The Rev Andrew Watson is minister of the Presbyterian congregation at Cairncastle, Co Antrim. He blogs at

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Faith Matters