Saturday, March 3, 2012

Anger, Pride, Forgiveness

It's easy to feel justified in anger. Natural reaction to feeling like someone has wronged you is to get angry. Scream, yell, pout, plot, think of all the things you wish you would have said in the heat of the moment, or wish that you could take back some of the things you said in that moment. Maybe sometimes getting angry can be productive. Maybe there are times that anger can serve a purpose as a wake up call to others, or as a type of healing in order to get something off your chest. But most of the time, anger is something that just hurts. No two ways about it, it's just a hurtful emotion to everyone involved. There are innocent by standers that get caught in the crossfire of anger.
So what does the Bible say about anger? Proverbs 14:17 says, "A quick-tempered man does foolish things." Proverbs 16:32 "Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city." Summing these up is James 1:19-20: "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." Easy enough. Bible good--anger bad. So now what?? What do you do with the anger??? Turn it over to God and turn it into forgiveness. This is not as easy as it sounds. First you have to let it go and listen to what direction God wants you to go "Be still, and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10. Seems like an easy thing to do, but it's hard to let go of that "justified" anger. Want to sit back and say "but I'm right and they are wrong!" Sometimes it feels better to be the victim, play the pity card. How bout playing the Man Card instead? How about sitting up and brushing the dirt off and saying "we can agree to disagree" or saying "you know, you have a point...let's talk about how we can fix it"???? It's way too easy to let pride take over, big old ugly pride! Proverbs 16:18 says " Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." God does not have tolerance for pride and anger. The Bible says in Galatians 5:19 "The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." God wants us to be the fruit of the Spirit, which is "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control." So while you feel like actions are justified by anger, know that no good comes from acts of pride and anger.
How do you forgive??? You forgive through God's grace. Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness in Matthew 18:21 "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." This answer by Jesus makes it clear that forgiveness is not easy for us. It's not a one-time choice and then we automatically live in a state of forgiveness. Forgiveness may require a lifetime of forgiving, but it is important to the Lord. We must continue forgiving until the matter is settled in our heart.

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