Saturday, December 7, 2013

Responding to Anger with Anger

People respond to anger with anger. Not just ruffians. Christians respond that way too. Not only do Christians get angry with those Christ commanded us to love, Christians respond to anger much the same as the pagan would!

I'll use myself as an example since I seldom get angry with myself. Likewise, I hardly ever disagree with "me" so by using "me" as an example I should not get angry as others might if I used "them" as the example. It's really difficult to keep from making others angry. By using myself as an example some will get angry and call me  narcissistic or even self-righteous. Actually, I'm just telling it as it is!

Case #1:

I'm driving on a main thoroughfare coming home from work when I make a driving error as I often do. At the time I was driving a Jeep Renegade so it was obvious that I'm a rogue and deserve what I get! I saw through my rear view mirror a car with two men. I had unintentionally cut them off and they seemed to be quite angry! The passenger, a young man of about 25, made an obscene gesture and mouthed some obvious references to me, my mom and some canines. I too became angry; and an angry Christian was I!

Both vehicles became entrapped at the next stop light. They were nearest the light and I'm about ten cars behind. I actually abandoned my Jeep, ran up to them with adrenalin flowing and was ready to scream horrific insults at those Christ told me to love. Scripture stopped me! I apologized for the mistake I had  made, but did tell the man that I had seen his obscene gesture. I then told him that if he isn't a Christian I would pray for him. He only gave me a perplexed look so I turned around and left. Through the corner of my eye I again saw that obscene gesture. I had made the man sin again.

Yes, I HAD MADE THE MAN SIN AGAIN!  Anger begets anger.

Ecclesiastes 7:9 "Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools."

This passage infers that anger is a normal emotion. We're just not to have an hasty spirit toward anger. Yes, sometimes we can be angry. That's a god-given emotion. However, we're to be "slow to anger" (Psalm 103:8). A foolish person is an angry person! It's not always foolish to get angry, but it's foolish to readily anger. There are other choices!

Proverbs 19:11 "The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression." or another interpretation (NIV) "A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense."

Yes, there is justifiable anger. All God's anger is justifiable and it's justifiable when one who blasphemes God is chastised. However, in this case scripture came to mind and I ceased and desisted. Because of applying Biblical knowledge (wisdom) I overlooked the offense. I wish I handled things that way all the time, but it was merely following God's word. Patience snuffs out firey emotions. Patience is in line with love and empathy.

Case 2:

I'm at a political rally in Bowling Green where I had staked out a position near and in front of the microphone where Hillary Clinton was to speak. I was holding a political sign meant to speak my political mind about the future president Bill Clinton.  As Hillary was speaking it became obvious that my sign, as well as my fellow protesters, were becoming an irritant to her chain of thought.

An angry man, an obvious Clinton supporter, got in my face and damned me to hell and condemned me with sexual epithets. It went on for several minutes until I took my eye off him. Suddenly, I had a fist in my left eye-socket!  In my mind's eye I drew back and knocked this guy through the chain-link fence beyond. Then scripture came to mind:

Matthew 5:39 "But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."

Yes, I was angry! God deferred my anger. I said to the man (pointing at my right cheek) "Hit me here too!"  (I know scripture was to the opposite cheeks than what mine was, but God still knew.)  To my surprise the man backed off and left me. He proceeded to go harass another, but my situation was under control.

If I had hit back, as I had pictured, it would have been me who looked poorly to others. I might have even ended up in jail! Regardless in the "New Jerusalem Banner" the paper's headlines would have been ANGRY CHRISTIAN ACTS LIKE PAGAN. That would have been me!

Case #3:

I thank God for his Holy Spirit who checks my anger (and behaviors).  However, sometimes I fail to listen to the spirit. I try to do it "my way".

One of my employees constantly harangued me. Any time I gave him a job assignment I received cursing and humiliation every time. On this particular occasion he really got to me and even though I was "slow to anger" my anger was raging!  I called him a  "__________ idiot". You fill in the blank. (You probably can because most of us at least have thought this!)

Time then stopped. He looked at me and I at him. He had never heard me respond this way before! I apologized for my language, but to my surprise he apologized to me for provoking me to anger.

Ephesians 6:4 "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
Yes, I'm aware this passage is referring to the parent and his offspring, but the same advice is good for many other applications. I could read "provoke not your wife" "provoke not your worker", or "provoke not your friend". You get the idea. It's a general principle easily applied to any relationship.
Somehow, maybe my methods, I provoked the employee to anger. Since anger begets anger, he turned on me and I became angry. Rather than responding without emotion, I flared out in anger. I sinned against the man and by cursing (and unbridled anger) against God.
I apologized to the man, but failed to do so with God. It seems that we revere each more than God and easily take God's feelings for granted.
Now for my point: I get discouraged. I have many inner sins, but other than that one cursing slip; the only cursing I had done in years: by the Holy Spirit I can control my language.  Although I have many sins of the heart, my mouth is under control. It wasn't easy, but a son, disappointed in my language, made it easier. I was convicted of the sins of the tongue by a four-year old.
Others are really none of my business. If another person prefers anger and cursing as long as I'm not the brunt of it, it's none of my business. However, scripture tells me that I must reprove others. That's the hard part. How do I do that without being judgmental? I can't, so bear with me.  My method may be crass, but my intentions brass.
I've often heard cursing, off-color language and bullying by those angry. Oftentimes it's behind the back of the person who has provoked the anger. This is what I expect to hear from non-Christians, but today, this is common Christian jargon! Does the Lord rejoice in fumes emanating from his temple (the Christian)?  Likely not, but you answer that!

Off-color language is not just traditional vulgarities. There are new ways of speaking filthy. "Friggin" for instance is clearly off-color. It's used by Christians in lieu of the real word. The mind is in the same gutter regardless of the whether friggin is used or the other.

Likewise, we're not to use God's name in vain. Some say "Well, I meant nothing by it!". That's what "in vain" means! God's name is to be revered so much that it's only to be used in serious study, worship and praise. Anything beyond that is "in vain". "But", you say, "I say only OMG, gosh or Jeez!"  Again, it's not the words, but what's in the mind. These are all Christian substitutes for God's name. If you decided to use the by-word "One" for instance, if you're substituting it for God's name; it's in vain.
I'll ask another question: If you don't control your mouth is the heart under control?
James 1:26 "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain."
You interpret that scripture yourself. Does it apply to those who just seem to be Christians, or should it be applied to the Christian tongue as well?

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