Is it okay, to be angry?

I’ve always heard it preached, that anger is okay. People would quote Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not:” and say, “Look! You can be angry, as long as you aren’t sinning.” This made perfect sense to me, and I took it as truth. But in time I’ve come to find another verse not far away, it says:

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” Ephesians 4:31

Wait.

So isn’t that a contradiction? One verse tells us to be angry and not sin, and the other tells us to put our anger away? How can this be?

On another note, multiple verses tell us to be “slow to anger.” So anger is permissible, but only if you are not quick to anger?

With all of these thoughts, let us turn to our ultimate example- Christ.

It may surprise you that Jesus was angry upon multiple accounts. One time is mentioned in Mark 3. Jesus is about to heal the a man in the synagogue. He challenges the Pharisees ideas and they do not reply. In that moment, He was very angry. It says that he looked around at them in anger. Then, he healed the man.

Notice Jesus didn’t become violent, He didn’t act out in anger. He kept to His purpose. He continued His ministry. He continued to love. And from everything we read in that passage,

He moved on.

I think the answer to the anger question is simple.

In our anger, we should not sin. So that means we don’t lose control. But more than this, we don’t lose our focus. Not sinning in anger is more than just not yelling at someone, or not punching them in the face. No. It’s much more. In order for us to have anger in it’s proper place, we must be able to

Be angry, and still love

Be angry, and still prefer others above ourselves

Be angry, and still have Christ as our supreme focus, delight, and desire.

I have come to this conclusion, which I ask you to consider carefully before you accept. If our anger detracts, deters, or detours us from any objective- it is sin. If we flicker in our devotion to God. If we glance away from His plan for our lives. If we use it as an momentary occasion for pride, it is sin. If we feel anger as a reaction to an affront against us, instead of being angry for the sake of God’s honor, it is sin.

I do not know what kind of anger you have known, but my anger is most assuredly always an occasion of pride. It is always a moment of “How dare they ____ to me.” My anger is always in defense of what I think I “deserve.” True humility and love teaches me that I deserve nothing. And I need no defense.

I truly believe, if we are angry, it should be on behalf of God, and not ourselves.

If you have known this righteous anger, then I salute you, but there is still another aspect to consider. Ephesians 4:31 says, we must put our anger away. No matter how righteous your anger is, it will not be righteous for long, if you allow it to stay. The children of God must not live in a spirit of anger. We must not let it dwell in our hearts. Read the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering . . .

Do these all coexist with a heart full of anger, I think not. Let us be like our glorious Creator, of which it has been said,

“The LORD is merciful and gracious,
Slow to angerand abounding in mercy.”

Psalm 103:8

 

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Where’s the seed?

Have you ever looked at a large tree, and wondered where the seed went? It’s a strange question, but consider the absence of the seed. An oak tree doesn’t have a special commemorative plaque on it – “To the acorn that started it all, 50 years ago.” Nope, the acorn is nowhere to be seen. No, only the life of the acorn remains. And the giving of that life meant the ending of that acorn’s existence.

This idea is very similar to the illustration of our Lord Jesus. He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” – John 12:24

Imagine if someone planted a seed, but the seed decided that it didn’t want to give up it’s existence. He said, “I’m a seed, I’m a good thing. I don’t want to change. I don’t want to die. Why should I loose my existence or position. Imagine, if all around the world, seeds made this decision. (Ignoring the fact that such things have no personality or decision making ability) Think about the consequences! We would have no food the next year. World chaos would ensue.

But literal seeds are not the issue here. Our Lord was not talking about corn, wheat, or acorns. The next verse said, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” He was talking about us. Our lives.

Here’s the illustration. In order for you to fulfill your purpose in life, you must give up your identity. You must surrender your rights. You must refuse to follow the world’s calling to pridefully commemorate yourself. As Jesus did, we must give our lives. Jesus laid down His life. As a result, His life now lives in each and every person who accepts Him.

Now it’s our turn. We can’t lay down our lives “exactly” as He did.He’s not asking us to erect physical crosses in our back yard, and go die on them. But we can lay down our lives, our passions, our will, and our personal interests, in the interest of serving and glorifying Him. Yes, we must die, just like that acorn “dies.”

But to lay down your life, and to die to yourself, is the only way to truly live.

An acorn that refuses to die, eventually rots and becomes useless. It is the same with the Christian life. If it is not given completely over to the Father’s control, if the life inside is not allowed to be given out for fear of losing personal identity- its usefulness is limited.

I challenge you, give up your life- in pursuit of glorifying God. Just like there is no limit to the ultimate offspring an acorn can produce if it gives it’s life. There is no limit to the spiritual fruit you can ultimately have a hand in, if you will only fully surrender your life to God, and truly begin to live.

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” – Luke 9:23

Source of contention

Have you ever known a group of bickering people? Bicking people who complain and argue and fight can be found everywhere. They are in public, in church, even in our homes. If we are honest, most of us could say that we find the phenomenon of complaining and bickering in ourselves.

But what is the source of complaining and bickering and fighting? People complain because they don’t have something. They fight because they don’t have something. But the question is, do they truly need what they lack? Do we truly require what we desire to do God’s will?

James 4:1 tells us where contention and bickering come from. It says, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” Lust is the source of contention and bickering and fighting. Unnatural and sinful desire.

Think about that for a moment. Realize: every time you complain or fight or bicker you are responding improperly to a desire in your life. Think about some bickering children who are fighting over a toy. They have placed their desire for a toy over their desire for righteousness and peace. Think about adults who are agitated about sitting in traffic. They have placed their desire to “arrive” at their destination on time, over their desire for righteousness, meekness, and peace- and ultimately over their relationship with God.

Now, there are times when we must take a stand and have some confrontation. But those instances are not usually regular occurrences. Most of the time, when we are fighting, we are fighting for our own selfish reasons and our own lustful desires. Let us ask the Lord to help us righten our desires, so they are aligned with God’s will. Let us not bicker and fight by reason of our lust. Let us work together to build a legacy of peace and unity in the body of Christ!

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” – Philippians 2:3

“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:3

What did God do wrong?

There is a common idea in the world that says something like, if we worship God, we’re doing Him a favor. Like it’s our “duty” but really we’re helping God out when we do something right. In reality, we’re doing ourselves a favor. And we’re doing the only reasonable thing.

In Jeremiah 2, God is pleading with the people of Israel to come back to Him. God desires revival for His people, and as He calls to them, He asks a question that can really make us think.

One question He asks is in verse 5. He asks, “Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?” What a thought! We will consider breaking it off with someone if they treat us wrongly. God asks those who have turned from Him, “What have I done wrong?” “What sin did I commit?”

God has never done anything amiss. He is eternally righteous and just. If you find that your life is being lived in a way that chases after vanity, realize that you have ceased to seek after God. It is a fundamental axiom of the universe that God is perfect. He does nothing wrong. He commits no sin or injustice. So the question asked in the scripture is obviously rhetorical.

God has given us life, provision, and the promise of an eternal relationship. Why would we turn from Him? What could bring us to turn from our fellowship with Him? Nothing but our own selfishness.

I challenge you, if you have turned from God in any way, go back to Him today. God calls after you just like He called to the Israelites. He is ready to receive you, if you will only turn to Him.

Won’t you turn to Him? After all, what evil has He done to you?

 

Any military can do that . . .

A lot of times it’s easy to get caught up in do’s and don’ts. We can easily tell people what to do and what not to do. It’s simple right? If you have a line drawn, like, “Don’t steal.” Then we can tell someone when they stole, that stealing is wrong. It seems to be the simplest way to explain God’s expectations, but is it the best way?

In Matthew 5, Jesus speaks to the people and He is explaining the law. The law was a list of do’s and don’ts  that was designed for the Jewish people. Jesus explains the reason for the do’s and don’ts.  In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus explains, that the law said don’t kill. However, the reason the law said don’t kill was that God did not want people to even hate one another. The law also spoke against adultery, but Jesus explained that looking with the intention of thinking lustful thoughts is sin.

So, if you are teaching another about God’s will, don’t always resort to do’s and don’ts. Yes, it is true that God wants us to have proper actions, but God also wants us to have proper thoughts and attitudes. The sin of murder is wrong, but so is the sin of hate. The sin of stealing is wrong, but so is the sin of selfishness.

I challenge you, seek to give a complete view of sin when you teach.  The Christian life is much more than changing our actions. God wants our hearts and our inner beings to change as well. Don’t allow someone to think that only their actions must change. Give them a complete view of God. God wants a relationship with them, not just a robotic obedience.

We can force ourselves to obey strict commands, any well run military is proof of that. In contrast, we need God’s transforming power to change our inner beings to be like Him. That’s what the Christian life is about. Won’t you seek Him for that transforming power, and share it with others today?