Today I want to continue with some of the favorite verses of my friend Elizabeth. As a young mother, dealing with homeschooling, keeping her household running and the various frustrations of life, these verses help to keep her grounded, focused and obedient to God’s calling on her life. The first issue is what to do with anger and the frustrations that come with everyday living.
Ephesians 4:30-32 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. This Ephesians passage reminds us to not harbor or let bitterness and anger fester and grow. We are told to put away, cast off, reject those feelings and replace them with forgiveness, love and kindness always being reminded of God’s forgiveness provided to us through Christ. I know this is easier said than done but being aware that bitterness grows if it is not dealt with and that forgiveness is essential to keeping our hearts in balance with Jesus is important to remember.
What do I need to remember about anger? General anger at life or people causing hurt feelings or anger over unjust circumstances where you feel you were wronged, are not productive. James 1:20 tells us “for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” If we are looking for right living, hope, love, grace, mercy… all a product of God’s righteousness, we won’t find it in anger. Our selfish and perhaps petty anger does not produce godly character in us nor does it reveal God’s rightness for living within us.
What are we to conclude? Are we never to be angry? No, Jesus was furious with the money changers abusing their place in the temple and taking advantage of the pilgrims coming to offer sacrifices.(Matthew 21:12-13) Anger is an emotion God has given to us, but since it can lead to unproductive things, we need to use it sparingly and with care in the right circumstances. Ephesians 4:26-27 tell us how to treat anger. “ Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.” We need to be careful in our anger and not let it lead us into sin like bitterness, rage, using words to put down or demine someone, etc. Good words to remember are Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” and Psalm 103:8 “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Lord that we would seek to be more like you!
Lastly, Elizabeth has chosen the wonderful encouraging words of Philippians 4:8. When you are tempted to speak words in anger, when you are at a loss of what to say and how to respond- think about Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. We are encouraged to fill our hearts and minds with good things that lead to godliness.
The words of Hebrews 12:1 come to mind as I close. The author had just written about the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, those who lived lives of persistence in following God and who clung to His truths for living. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” We too are to persist in faith, persist in seeking to live a godly life so what we say and do is pleasing to God. I love the reminder that ‘sin so easily entangles us’. When we take the road of anger, bitterness and revenge we are being entangled by sin, and it only leads to more sin. But when we seek to think on good things that lead to light and life we are encouraged and uplifted in our walk with Jesus.
May you run your race each day putting on the goodness of God and rejecting those things that lead away from Him.