Yes! It’s Tuesday. The time we gather with others to share how God is working in our lives. Many weeks we have been discussing what love is not, but take heart only two more discussions to go and the tide will turn.
Today we’ll share our experiences from our week reflecting on a short-temper and bitterness. Did you get angry and react with a short fuse? Did someone get mad at you?
Love is not irritable or bitter. It is not quick-tempered nor does it hold a grudge.
When I read the text I knew she was angry. I took a deep breath and made the phone call I knew would be hard. Anger is a tough emotion and it is difficult not to respond in kind when voices are raised and feelings are hurt.
My feelings were hurt. I did all I thought was right to make the circumstance pleasing to everyone. I went far beyond what I would have done for my own flesh and blood. This was someone close, someone I love, and when the line went silent I was feeling pretty mad.
My hands shook and my heart beat fast. I was in fight or flight mode and it took a while to calm down. I vented to my husband… vented to God as I fell asleep.
It was the first think on my mind the next morning. And when the text came from the one who was mad, I wasn’t sure how to respond. My husband gave me some good advice, “Just wait a while before you respond.”
He was right. Waiting allowed God to work in a way to bring about good in a hard situation. Over the next few hours God revealed to me how the enemy was working to bring division in this relationship. Anger always, always causes division!
God used my husband to remind me to apply the spiritual discipline we practiced this week. Sentence prayers give us the time to process our emotions and not act immediately. After the emotion of the circumstance grew calm I was determined to stand strong against the enemy’s schemes and choose relationship over self-righteousness.
It wasn’t easy. I’m still feeling a little singed around the edges, but love feels like that at times.
It was a tough day, when it should’ve been fun, filled with joy. But… it just didn’t play out that way.
Spending time with ones I love dearly, I simply felt attacked. Out of sync with everyone. My feelings were already hurt, when she shared some news off the cuff. Big news. Something we should’ve heard about weeks earlier. The bruised feelings began to stir into anger.
Taking a lesson from our study, I started by just listening. Not only to what she was saying, but what my heart was processing. Being slow to speak, I tried to look at things from her perspective. Tried to understand her.
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding…
This is from the week’s memory verse, and that was what I was striving for: great understanding.
…but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
This is what I was trying to avoid, exalting my own foolishness.
In the moment, I collected myself. Asked questions of interest. Then just let the conversation move on. Until later, alone with my husband, who made the mistake of asking me if I was OK…
We would love to hear your story too. Won’t you share your thoughts in the comment box below? [It’s found at the bottom of the post when read on Sister Talk:Faith.]
This week we have some deeper lessons to share from our study of the Word. Hope you’ll take time to read them.
Going Deeper: Lessons from the Scripture
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.
James 1:19-20 ESV
The preposition to found in the phrases quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger is the Greek word eis. If you have been with us long, you would have heard a teaching on this word when connected to believe in. In John 3:17 and 7:38 eis is the word right after believe. It has a meaning of motion, going toward, deeper into. (The lesson can be found on the Vocabulary to Revive page of Sister Talk: Faith.)
When we add the movement toward these adjectives and verbs, we hear: be fast to move into an ever-deepening listening mode; be slow to move into saying anything; be slow to move toward the emotion of anger or indignation.
Taking James’s teaching to heart is not adding a simple moment in time. It is a process of engagement. Listening with increased attentiveness to each word spoken. Holding your tongue even longer than you thought possible. Reining in anger almost to a halt.
As Believers, we want any anger coming from us to work God’s righteousness into the situation. Not our own foolish self-righteousness.
God’s way shows love to those who anger us.
We read in Matthew the story of Jesus’s action in the Temple.
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.
Matthew 21:12-14 ESV
This is a familiar story, one you’ve probably heard before. But when we read it in The Message something new takes shape.
Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text:
My house was designated a house of prayer;
You have made it a hangout for thieves.
Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.
Matthew 21:12-14 The Message
When we read this story, we often focus on Jesus’s actions, his emotion, the sinful way of money changers. Take a look at the final phrase in The Message.
Now there was room…
Those who were setting up shop in the Temple left no room for the blind and lame. No room for the broken and lost to come to God so their eyes might be opened. No room for healing.
Jesus wasn’t angry because He felt insulted or mistreated. Jesus didn’t lose His temper. He used His temper to make way for those in need to come to Him.
We would do well to follow Jesus’s example. The emotion of anger can overwhelm us, send our heart racing, cause us to lash out at others. Jesus reveals there is a time and place for anger, but not the uncontrolled kind. We must harness our anger and use it to make room in His kingdom for the lost and downhearted, the broken and blind. This is righteous anger. An emotion God can use in us to build His kingdom.