Has anyone ever said something to you that made you instantly bristle with indignation or rage? Do you know what it's like to feel the blood rush suddenly to your face and the veins in your neck pop out like steel cables?
"That's not right - you've got that all wrong." Well, why don't you just come right out and call me a liar to my face!
"You are so worked up and anxious. Do you not believe any of the promises of Scripture? You're behaving a like a pagan!" Are you questioning the validity of my faith?!
"I don't see what the big deal is...why are you getting so emotionally worked up over (fill-in-the-blank)? Just let it go!" Oh, since it's no big deal to you, then it doesn't matter. I guess my feelings are supposed to just take a hike!
I hate - I HATE - when someone dismisses my concerns or makes light of my feelings or questions the sincerity of my faith or speaks to me in a deprecating way. I hate it.
But, whether someone's hard comments to me are completely off-mark or whether they are spot on, flash-bang anger is not an appropriate response on my part. If my first response is "How dare you!" or "Who are YOU to talk?" or if I react by counter-attacking, something is wrong. Something is definitely out of whack in my heart.
Why am I so angry?!!
Well, probably because I receive the words as a personal attack, and I immediately feel the need to defend and justify myself.
It's like, in a moment of anger, I momentarily forget that I actually AM unholy, inadequate, insufficient, impure, and I think I have to prove to the person standing before me that I really am good enough, honest enough, smart enough, righteous enough to counter any negative comments they throw at me.
Why am I so angry? I am angry because I have forgotten that Jesus covers all of me - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and that, in Him, I am safe and loved. I am angry because I have forgotten the Gospel. Again. Aaaaaugh!
Thankfully, the Gospel spreads out ever wider, ever bigger, like ripples on a pond. I forget, and then, when the heat of the moment passes, the Gospel washes over me like cool water and I remember.
I pray that more and more, God will teach me to respond to the difficult or unkind or untrue words of another less and less with the passion of self-interest, and more with the peace and grace of the Gospel.
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)
...receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (verse 21b)
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. (verse 26)
4 days ago