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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

Keep “Short Accounts,”Not “Long Accounts”

Updated: 5 days ago

“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).

As a boy, my mother disciplined me for behavior prompted by my anger.

Unfortunately, my insistence on having my way, combined with my immaturity, caused me to fail to see that mom’s “punishment” was intended for my good. She was NOT correcting my anger. Mom was reprimanding me for my inappropriate behavior prompted by anger. It was a lesson I needed when I was a boy. It’s a lesson I need to remember today. 

If anger is a sin, we’re in trouble.  

Anger is an emotion brought to life by what we perceive as injustice. All it takes is someone who does something we don’t like, says something we don’t appreciate, offends us, treats us rudely, or displays behavior that is offensive to us or those we love—and we become angry. 

We don’t want to be angry, but injustice (perceived or actual) often prompts anger. We will not live in this world without (at times) experiencing anger.

Paul’s words to the Ephesians are timely—and encouraging—for our angry world. His opening phrase, “Be angry and do not sin,” is a soothing balm for agitated souls. What a needed reminder! 

Paul is not chastising the Ephesians (or us) for being angry. He wants to ensure our actions are not a reaction prompted by anger!

“Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil!”

My wife, Vicki, has had numerous opportunities to be angry with me. She has observed times when anger prompted my behavior (and vice versa). Show me any marriage where the husband and wife haven’t sometimes been irritated with each other. It happens. 

However, harmony and unity are more valuable than permitting inappropriate behavior to separate us. Paul demonstrates a sense of urgency not to bury the problem. 

In an article written by Jack Roady (who at the time was President and Criminal District Attorney in Galveston County), he addressed the need for us to “keep short accounts.” He reminds us of “simpler times” when shopkeepers would allow people to “run a tab” and settle their debts later. He writes:

“To keep short accounts, then, meant to pay off those charges quickly rather than let them accumulate.”⁠1 

Those who struggle to pay their credit cards off in full each month can relate to the stress of unpaid debts! 

That’s what Paul is saying. Allowing “short accounts” to become “long accounts” is costly! I must acknowledge my anger quickly, so I don’t allow my “short account” to become a “long account.”

It may be awkward, fearful, or intimidating to face the issue quickly. But failing to address the matter promptly allows the devil to divide us. 

And Lord knows, in a divided world, we need unity. 


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