"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thoughts on Anger & Imitating God

James 1: 19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

I've been reading the devotionals in the back of this month's In Touch magazine. The recent topic is anger and I wanted to share a few things said.

An angry spirit is contagious. It is passed from one person to another -- and from one generation to the next. Workplaces can become tense environments full of caustic words and attitudes. Ire turns homes into battlegrounds of verbal explosions or silent hostility. Even churches suffer from malicious gossip and fights over personal preferences. . . . Children learn to respond to life's situations by observing their parents' example. They then develop similar attitudes and patterns of behavior. We need to give serious thought to what kind of heart we are passing down to our sons and daughters.

Wow, really sobering, huh? Are we passing down a heritage of anger and resentment? Children often mirror what they see in us. I couldn't help but think of family feuds (e.g. Hatfields and McCoys) when the author mentioned passing down this angry spirit from generation to generation. Can we not see this displayed throughout the world? In my opinion, it should have absolutely no place within the family of God!

The author asks:

Which would you prefer: churning anger or Christ's peace? Both require sacrifice. To maintain anger, you might have to forfeit healthy relationships and a godly heritage for your descendants. But to acquire peace, ask God to help you leave your grudges, personal rights, and insults on the altar.

Notice the choice here? Maintaining anger requires effort - a choice on your part. The author challenges us to get rid of any resentment, anger or bitterness in our lives. Perhaps we don't even realize we have bitterness down deep, but he urges us to ask God to reveal it to us so we can get rid of it with His help. Somehow I ended up reading in Ephesians and thought these verses were worth noting in this post:

1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

See how we are urge to make every effort to be unified? I daresay we often don't put much effort into keeping things peaceful. Why? Because like you, I want my own way! I want to explain why I am right, how you hurt me and I want to be understood no matter if losing peace is the price!

And then read on to these familiar verses. Ones that most church-going children learned in their Sunday schools or AWANA programs. But don't just gloss over them because they are familiar. Read them, and better yet, LIVE them! How different America could be if those who say they follow Christ actually applied these few verses.

29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

And finally this wonderful reminder from the first two verses of the next chapter. Ephesians 5:

1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

We must be like our Father. Live a life of love and service today!


Amber said...

You know, I have a hell of a temper. Really, some of my rants have been glorious in their fiery wrath.

However, 99% of the time, it's there and gone. I don't hold grudges, really.

And I've been working on not letting things get to me, on not letting my temper loose. It feels good, sure, but it's *exhausting* to maintain that level of ire and spite at the world.

But, this is one of my...I don't know if you want to call it a burden...I hold one grudge. One. I've held onto my anger at this person for so long, I can honestly tell you I don't know what I would do if I could stop being angry at them. It's become a *part* of me - one that I know I should get rid of, it's no good, it's unhealthy, but I can't quite manage it. *sigh*

This is what keeps reminding me that I *need* to let this go:

'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us' - I say it every day, and I still struggle with forgiving. *grr*

For the past two weeks a church that I drive by on my way to and from work has had this on their sign: 'Who angers you, controls you.' and it's true. A nice little reminder for me.

Carmen said...

Thanks for the reminder about passing it down to other generations. When you put it that way, I sure as heck don't need my children burdened with my struggles.

I'm going to work harder at overcoming them!

Susanne said...

Amber, yes, that is a nice reminder for all of us. I'm glad you shared this one burden with me. I think willingness to forgive and let go of that grudge is a start. But it seems you aren't ready for that YET.

I wonder if you prayed and simply asked God to help you see this person with HIS eyes if it would help you start a slow thawing process that would free your heart from his (I'm guessing it's a him) control.

God desires us to have His peace and joy -- one that is past all human understanding -- yet that is hard to have when we think of that ONE person or ONE situation that really make our blood boil. Anyway, I wish you success in that. Remember you can do ALL THINGS not by Amber's will or power, but through Christ who is our strength.

Carmen, yeah, when I read that about passing along anger to the next generation it was quite a reality check. For sure I don't want Michael to pick up anything like that from me. Holding onto anger steals the peace and joy that we should have in Christ.

Thanks for sharing!