When Aggravations Accumulate

When Aggravations Accumulate

November 7, 2013

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Ephesians 4:26-27 (NASB)

I opened the front door and smiled at the delivery man, “Four large pizzas, right?”

The look on the pizza guy’s face told me the teenagers in my backyard were about to be disappointed.

“Ummm, well, actually there are only two. Let me check your ticket … oh, yeah you’re supposed to have four. Give me 20 minutes and I’ll be back with the other two.” I took the two he had and said, “No problem. The kids can start on these and have round two when you get back.”

As I walked into the kitchen, my husband Art gave me a funny look. “I thought you ordered four pizzas.”

“Yeah, the delivery guy forgot two but will be back in a few minutes. No big deal,” I quipped with a shoulder shrug.

Art tilted his head. “You didn’t even ask for a discount or coupons?”

“I felt bad for the guy. It’s not a big deal to ask the kids to wait a few minutes,” I replied with a smile.

Remembering the way I’d reacted earlier during a little “growth opportunity” we’d had, Art said, “Wow. I’d like to receive that kind of grace.”

Ouch. His point was well made. I’d gotten aggravated with something Art had done and let him know.

Why is it I’m so quick to give a gentle answer to a stranger but spew on those I love? Perhaps it’s because of accumulated impact.

This was the only time I’d ever seen the pizza guy. My emotions toward him were completely neutral. When he made a mistake, I was able to let it go.

But I have a history with Art. We do life together. If I let aggravations collect, my emotions ratchet up, creating more and more tension. Then, when something happens, I find it much harder to brush off the offense and offer grace.

Accumulated aggravations equal accumulated impact.

Therefore, it’s crucial I don’t collect aggravations. I’ve heard many times: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger …” (Ephesians 4:26 NASB) I know it. But honestly, sometimes I ignore it. I collect aggravations because I’m too tired to talk. Or, I don’t want to deal with it. Or, I try to convince myself it’s no big deal to go to bed mad.

But when I keep reading one more verse, Ephesians 4:27, I understand why I should deal with little aggravations while they are still little. They might not stay little long. Why? Because verse 27 finishes with a strong warning, “… and do not give the devil an opportunity” (NASB)


The devil is just waiting for an opportunity. I picture him hissing, “Go to bed mad … and give me an opportunity.” That just sends shivers down my spine.

I love my husband. I get aggravated with him. But I love him. So, I certainly don’t want to open the door of opportunity for the devil to turn little aggravations into big ones.

I put down the pizzas and kissed Art’s cheek. “I love you and I’m sorry I didn’t give you that kind of grace.”

To which he replied back with a big smile, “I still think we should have asked for a discount or coupons.”

Like I said, I love my husband!

Dear Lord, I really want to follow Your example and live a life full of grace. Sometimes it is so hard to show grace to those closest to me. Help me. I don’t want to give the devil any opportunities in my marriage, my relationships with my children, or in my friendships. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you want to stop accumulating aggravations and start showing more grace? Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst shares wonderful wisdom to lead you in making those changes. Click here to order your copy!

The accompanying Unglued Bible Study is a great resource to get us into the Word of God and help us choose better reactions. To order your copy, click here.

Reflect and Respond:
Think about the equation, accumulated aggravation = accumulated impact. Choose one relationship in your life. In what ways has allowing yourself to accumulate aggravations resulted in a lack of grace?

What actions can you take to safeguard your relationships against the devil’s attempts to create conflict and separation?

Power Verses:
Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (NIV)

1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (NIV)

© 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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  1. Louise Jane says:

    Just what I needed today, thank you x

  2. Peace Mirembe says:

    Oh God, Please help those crossing my path today to receive some grace.

  3. yes thats a great problem i deal with

  4. I feel good after reading this devotion. Thank you so much and God bless…

  5. Karen Anderson says:

    I have been here and done just that! This is a wonderful reminder to be the grace of Jesus to ALL in our lives. We get caught up in life and those we want to see Jesus should still include those who know we walk with Him. It is easy to get wrapped up in “quick response” James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. I so want EVERYONE that I know, run into, or are just being watched by curious eyes…. that Jesus lives in me…and because of that…I AM a new creation! Jesus, I ask you to be my eyes, my lips and my heart today. Help me to discern when and what to speak and let me be the very example of Your love and mercy. Let me live for YOU today Jesus!

    • Exactly what I needed to hear! Thanks for leaving that comment and loved the prayer at the end! God bless.

    • Love reading your words. I am so fighting aggravations, but today I will look at it through god’s eyes and hopefully I can speak with grace. Thank you for the pray, I love it.

    • Thank you for what you shared, Karen. This great encouragement and instruction. Thank you, also, for the prayer. God bless you richly!!

  6. I, too, struggle with this. Thank you for sharing. Lord, please help me today. I’m sure I have no idea how often others have extended extra grace my way….help me to give that to others, especially the ones that I love.

  7. “Accumulated aggravations equal accumulated impact” So true, Lysa.

    Thankfully, God’s mercies are new every morning. It’s a challenge for me to wipe the slate clean at least daily. Thank you for today’s reminder.

  8. This is timed perfectly. It’s 5:00 am and I’m paying bills which are two days late. I’m NEVER late on paying bills. However, for the past six months, I’ve been very sick. It’s all I can do to go to work and come home and fall into bed. This illness has caused me to seriously consider quitting my teaching job, which I dearly love. I’m the one with the primary income, I do all the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and bill paying. I do a lot for everyone else, but when I really need it most, no one will do these things when I am too sick and exhausted to do them. I even set everything up with checklists – it’s foolproof! A stranger could come into my house and take over with such detailed instructions. But my family won’t help, even with requests and all the tools at their fingertips. Don’t get me wrong, my husband went to the store and got items for one dinner, then actually made it last night. That’s wonderful! But that’s only because he has asked for dinner for several days and I finally told him I can’t do it all alone. (which I’ve told him may times) But now we’re back to square one with no food in the house. Lord, help me to have patience with those I love, especially while I am dealing with continual illness. I need you to lift me up with your grace and patience so that I can show that grace, patience, and love to my students and my family. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

    • Jill, I hear you girl… My husband is the same way. I make more than twice what he does and yet because his past love of nice things for himself, all his money goes to his bills; which are paid exactly on time every month. However, the water bill, gas bill, electric bull; (the only household bills he is responsible for) goes unpaid until they are about to be shut off. Last year I found out he had been getting an annual Christmas bonus for the past 10 years and still letting me buy his family presents, my family presents and then saying “I don’t think we should buy for one another since money is tight”. I’m so sorry you are sick and even more sorry you are not getting the support you need. I am praying for us both today to not only have some grace for our husbands but to have our husband’s eyes opened to their wives’ needs.

      • Lisa,
        Thank you for responding with encouraging words. You have no idea how much it helps to hear that other women are struggling too. Although, I wouldn’t wish our circumstances on anyone else. I am astonished by your husbands actions. I will pray fervently for a change of heart and understanding for him. Hopefully God will enlighten our husbands to be better attuned to our needs and to adopt a servants attitude. I will also pray for God to give you the patient heart of forgiveness. My favorite verse: ‘The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’ Exodus 14:14

    • Lisa, my heart goes out to you this morning. I am praying for you as you walk this difficult path. Jesus cares, and he understands and sees everything you are going through. I’m praying for God’s peace and love to surround and fill you. I also pray that your husband and family will come along side of you and support and help you in this sickness. God bless you, sweet sister in The Lord.

  9. this is a problem area for me. our married, with children, daughter pointed out to me this weeekend that her dad and i have become “the bickersons”! not a title i ever aspired to? we have given the devil an opportunity more times than i care to remember and for reasons you mention. but the main reason i let the sun go down on my anger/irritation is because if i tried to hash out every slight or offense with my husband i would simply be a nag! and he would not receive it as this verse intended and but would feel i was constanly complaining and needling him. he is a man who communicates with sarcasm and he is also quite bossy. please hera me, i love this guy with my whole heart and he is a wonderful husband and father and grandfather but he has his ways about him and boy can they make his wife and children mad. my daughter and i joked with the birth of her first baby about whether they would call us grandma and grumpus! 😉 so that is my conundrum. anyone else out there been married forever with a similar situation? would love to dialog about this.

  10. Stephanie says:

    I absolutely love how transparent all the writers are on Proverbs 31. Just when I feel guilt taking over that I can “never get it right” I read and realize that other women have problems and struggles in areas I do. Even women who are doing God’s work by writing devotions! Oh how I love my mornings that are spent reading these and meditating on them all afternoon. I also love my husband SO much, and he is the one I show the least grace to. I have actually been in prayer/fasting my most favorite things over this area. I really want to show more mercy and grace to every one around me, and love like Jesus. Thanks so much for doing the work of our Lord!

  11. I spent most of yesterday angry and it carried over into this morning. I needed to hear this. Thank you!

  12. I too have struggled with anger and frustration so much lately. It is all due to my husband and marriage and 3o years of issues. It seemed to rise up very strongly in me recently and God has since been chipping away at my attitude and even my bitterness. I was seething and talking to myself and telling God how I’d been wronged, reminding Him of words and events, clenching my fists…I was a mess. I suppose I had built up (accumulated) aggravations. I honestly thought I had this under control. The enemy has been pouring it on which only added to my emotional state. Since then God has used several avenues to whittle away at my frustration. It’s almost like peeling an onion for my change has come little by little. My pastor spoke several weeks ago on overcoming and he actually said a line my husband says which made my spiritual antennae go up. Then in a Sunday school class the line was mentioned again and the message was really focused on not being offended. The thing my husband always says isn’t a bible quote just a line he says so I knew God was speaking to me. There have been several other instances over the past few weeks and today this is more confirmation that God is still peeling away my wrong responses to my hard situation. I know He wants me to give grace and forgiveness and unconditional love. In pray I get this completely right because although I have come a long way the last few weeks I can feel the temptation to fall back into all those emotions. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your life and struggles and encouraging us in our faith.

  13. I so needed to read this. I have two people in my life whom I have “problems” with. One is my sister who causes me great aggrevation and I don’t say anything for fear of hurting her feelings. The other is my husband, who I don’t treat very well when I am upset with him. Like the devotions author, I show strangers more grace than my husband. I am really asking the Lord’s help in my life right now and know I will see great change!!!! The devil will not win! Thank you for great daily devotions!

  14. Ouch, been there, done that!! Feeling convicted & so grateful that Jesus doesn’t collect my aggravations 🙂

  15. Thank you for this reminder. My husband and I are having a hard week. This reminds me I need to treat him with more grace than I do my coworkers.

  16. It’s always those closest to us that get the brunt of our aggravations. Great words of wisdom, Lysa!

  17. I love this verse! When my two girls were little, I was the Children’s Supervisor in Bible Study Fellowship and this verse was the theme of one of the lessons. After I read it, I called my girls over to me and read this verse to them. I told them that when we get angry and don’t resolve it we are giving Satan a foothold in our home – we allow him to get some control. A few days later I was at our dining table doing more Bible study when I saw the girls having a minor battle in the family room. The youngest, Emmy (you know her, Lysa), stormed out of the room ran upstairs and slammed her door (she was about 6 years old at the time). I stayed out of it. A few minutes later, Emmy came quietly down the stairs and took Molly by the hand and pulled her back upstairs. After just a moment, Molly, her big sister, peeked over the bannister and called to me, “Mom, you have to come up here to see this.” When I got up to Emmy’s room, she had written the following on the wipe board: “I am sorry, Molly, I will not let Satan make me mad.” I could not believe that she had fully embraced the intent of that verse! I had the girls make me a bookmark for my Bible with the verse on one side and Emmy’s message on the other. Thanks for reminding me of that special memory from 30 years ago!

  18. I definitely know I am struggling with anger right now towards my husband from “accumulated aggravations”. However, I have in-laws that I hardly ever see that offer grace to other people in the family, but behave coldly towards me. I even posted this on my Facebook page this morning, “I don’t even know what I have done wrong to some in-laws (they don’t tell me…they instead tell others), but I know I feel unforgiven for something when I am around them…maybe it is because I simply exist.” As for how that pertains to the relationship between my husband and me, he says he wants a happy wife and does not want to be around biological family members that do those things. We have been together almost 10 years and I know when his voice hints even the slightest bit of sarcasm. This issue, compiled with the issue of me having to be the strong one to try to save money while he spends, and disagreements in disciplining our children, has me so overwhelmed and trying to fight depression lately. As for my relationship with Christ, it most certainly is a daily walk and surrender in order for me to get through each day!

  19. A tired Momma. says:

    I needed this today, I took my frustrations to bed last night…just didn’t have the energy to try to “make nice” before bed, and my hubby wasn’t home anyway. I had a migraine all day, still put in full day of work. Hubby came home from work with a headache, slept on the couch for 4 hours, while I fixed dinner for our children and ran errands. He woke up, asked what was for dinner, got upset because he couldn’t find his glasses, and then he had to go help a friend do something. I was exhausted, sick, and angry. I went to bed. I am holding on the fact that God’s grace is sufficient for me, but I pray that he would give me extra that I can use on others.

    • Tired Momma, I really appreciate that very last statement you wrote. 🙂 Thank you so much. I will pray that for myself, too. God bless you richly!

  20. In prayer this morning, I asked the Lord “will I ever get it?” Referring to how I am easily frustrated with my husband. The Lord often uses people to speak to us and He certainly did just that through your message today.
    How easy it is for me to be kind and forgiving to the cashier who didn’t ring up my purchase correctly or the stranger who bumped into me because he/she was in a hurry. How easy it is also for me to not have the same attitude towards my husband when he leaves the back door open on a cold day or some other silly thing.
    I needed the verse “don’t let the sun go down on your anger” today. I could also remind myself that if I do let the sun go down on my anger, then the sun will come up and the anger will still be there, a never-ending cycle.
    I look forward to my husband coming tonight. I want to use my opportunity to show him kindness and grace even if he only brings home two pizzas instead of four. 😉

  21. Kathie Waters says:

    accumulated aggravation = accumulated impact
    I am printing this out! I have a huge problem with being way less “grace-filled” for my children at home than I am the children I work with. I think partly because I expect so much more of my own kids. But no one is perfect! I sure am not… Thanks for this. “Unglued” is now on my Christmas list, so I can read more!

  22. This made me cry. My husband is still alive and I think of what it would be like to not have him here anymore.
    I complain a lot about how hard things are at times. I wish so much things were different. But would I rather have them different and not have him? I don’t think so. I have so much to be thankful for. I want to treasure each moment we have together on this earth and your message today is helping me to understand that. Thank you.

  23. Thank you!! I definitely needed this today. After an argument with my husband last night. I think verse 27 is almost more important the verse 26.

  24. Wow! What a full devotion! Thank you for sharing this, Lysa. I was accumulating aggravations the other day – between words with my husband and words with my teenage daughter, who are a lot alike. I sometimes allow myself to feel it’s a two against one thing. Know what I did, being acutely aware of becoming more and more aggravated and going over it in my mind? I went out for a walk. It was chilly, but I bundled up. It was so good to get out of the house. I must do that more often – praying as I walk. Praise God!

  25. Ruth G Ramirez says:

    Thank you very much for this sharing, is powerfull.

  26. I struggle with aggravation accumulation. Only my daughter gets the spillover. I have the book “Unglued”, but I haven’t got to read it all yet. I will try to talk it out when it happens instead of letting it accumulate. God is working on me in other ways also. He is so awesome.
    Dear Lord, help me not to accumulate my aggravations, but to get them out in the open when it happens so I don’t explode on my loved ones.

  27. Delores H. says:

    Take a deep breath and pause, be mindful of what we say and how we say it, I asked the holy spirit to put a bridle on my tongue. yes, I get aggravated often – I’m quite to open my BIG MOUTH, like this morning my girl friend and I went to IHOP for breakfast. I got so aggravated/irritated because the waiter took so long to came back to the table to pick up the payment. when the waiter arrived, I made a comment and said to her, WE ARE THE WAITERS! WE WAITED TO BE SEATED, WE WAITED TO PLACE OUR ORDER, WE WAITED FOR YOU TO BRING THE ORDER, AND WE WAITED FOR YOU TO PICK UP OUR PAYMENT. We all laugh out loud. I ask the lord to help, because I was aggravated.

  28. Sweet sister Lysa, your devotional made me both laugh and cry at the same time. How true! It’s interesting how we all face similar situations and then bring them to an open platform such as this to help build our other sisters in the Lord. God bless you.

  29. What a relief!! I have been married only six and a half months and have already encountered the aggrevation part and going to bed angry at my husband. At first I felt so guilty thinking how can two christians who love God be so nasty to each other? And then thinking there is something wrong with me or him or maybe we made a mistake by getting married… But I know that is all just lies from the enemy!! So thank you all for confirming that we all have struggles in our marriages and that we can overcome anything by standing firm on God’s Word.
    Blessings! 🙂

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