Monday, September 30, 2013
CONFESSING OUR ANGER: IT MAY LOOK DIFFERENT THAN YOU THINK
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-11
As I was studying this morning, this verse, showing us how the heart and mouth are entwined in our relationship with God, my mind flew back to Retreat last year and a conversation I had with someone who declared that she loved getting angry because it made her feel so much better to have gotten things off of her chest. Suddenly, my heart was broken all over again for her because I know how much God loves her and how broken hearted He is about our angry outbursts.
Jesus made it plain that it is that which is in our hearts that comes out of our mouths. What we store up in our hearts is what we will eventually say. If we store up anger and accusations, we will speak anger and make accusations. We may be introverted enough not to speak these things out loud to the person who brought out our anger, but we will think them or we will speak them to someone else when we just can’t keep the hurt quiet anymore, and need to relieve our pain: But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a person. For out of the heart come evil ideas, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are the things that defile a person;” Matthew 15:19
Several places in the letters of the New Testament it is declared that the heart and mind are filled with evil if we let them be and have not replaced that with the Word of God. And James 3 takes a fiery look at the unruly tongue as a weapon of destruction. He declares that it is killer: It will break others and it will break us in time.
In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4: 26-27 (NIV) or (KJV) Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
Many people misunderstand this admonition to mean taking care to let the other person know how angry we are and settling the issue with talk before going to bed. Wrong. It means, take it to God until you have wrestled it out between the two of you. I have spent long nights doing just that, but I have also done it wrong and have hurt people who did not need to be hurt. They did not even need to know that I was angry. I am the one who took offense and I was the one who needed to let go of that offense with God’s help.
And, the truth is that I usually came with the normal plea: He/she did this or that to me and I don’t deserve that. I deserve better and I have a right to be angry. But God always pushed back with, “But why are you angry at all? Why did you take offense to what happened?”
What God wants from us is some soul searching, and He is willing to do that in us. Truly, “Why are we angry?” is a very legitimate question. Why have we chosen the path of anger over the path of humble forgiveness and readiness to suffer offense, even imagined offense, at the hands others? Why have we felt it was our responsibility to make sure that every person who offends us at all, let alone 70 x 7 times, has to even know that they did something with which we took offense.
It is not our job to relieve ourselves of the stress of being angry through verbal accusations and screaming. It is our job to seek peace with God through a deep heart search and confessing with our mouths that we have chosen sin over His Peace and Love. Anger in itself is not the sin. It is choosing to be offended in the first place and then choosing to exact the revenge ourselves.
I am not suggesting here that you should “stuff it.” What I am saying is: if the offense is miner; forgive it as God forgives you. If it is serious enough to warrant further attention, get things in order with God and meet the other person on the level of Peace as the subject is discussed and worked out. Trust in Him for the solution, and work with Him as He works out the problem.
May we all learn to recognize taking offense as a choice; and may we learn to deal with that choice as soon as it is made. May we find our faith strengthened every time we take our hurt to you and work it out, rather than blasting someone else, hurting them and ourselves in ways that may not be reparable.
May we rejoice in the Lord always, even when we have been hurt, or even annoyed, so that we may be used as a light and a blessing to someone else each day.