Monday, March 8, 2010

Spirit and Truth: "Anger Issues"

Spirit & Truth # 171
“Anger Issues”
By Rev. Greg Smith

David had just been saying, “A lot of good it did to help this fellow. We protected his flocks in the wilderness, and nothing he owned was lost or stolen. But he has repaid me evil for good. May God strike me and kill me if even one man of his household is still alive tomorrow morning (1 Samuel 25:21-22 NLT)!”

When you have some spare time, I suggest you go online and do a Google search for “Peace protest turns violent.” You’ll be amazed at the number of news stories you’ll find. It’s ironic that people who are working for peace can break into bloodshed. I’ll admit that sometimes when I’m seeking peace, and that peace is interrupted, I can become angry about it. Instead of drawing from the peace I’ve found to deal with the trouble, instead I let anger take me, and I lose my cool—the exact opposite of what you might expect.

The same was true for David, and maybe it’s true for you. Peace is a fragile thing. In 1 Samuel 25, David removes himself to the wilderness of Maon at the death of his mentor, Samuel. He is grieving, and seeking peace, when a man named Nabal rubs David the wrong way. But being in a bad mood is no justification for bad behavior. It wasn’t for David, and it isn’t for you. Don’t let your mood determine your decisions, when anger threatens.

Verse 3 says, “Nabal… was crude and mean in all his dealings.” I’m sure you know people like that. It’s easy to justify your anger with the Nabals of the world. But an enemy’s sand paper personality is no excuse for you to lose control in anger.

David thinks he’s made a reasonable request of Nabal, according to the social contracts and customs of his day. Often though, other people don’t live up to their end of the bargain. But just because someone responds unreasonably to your reasonable request, this is no reason for anger.

David doesn’t handle his anger well. He straps on his sword and musters his troops, preparing to kill Nabal and every man in his household. Only Nabal’s wife, Abigail, is capable of stopping him with her voice of reason. “Don’t let this be a blemish on your record,” she says. “Then your conscience won’t have to bear the staggering burden of needless bloodshed and vengeance (v. 31).” Her cry for mercy pricks David’s conscience, and David relents. When you’re tempted by anger, listen to the voice of reason, even when it comes from an unlikely source (like your enemy’s own household). Don’t let your anger cause you to make decisions that you’ll be ashamed of later.

Proverbs 29:11 (NLT) says, “A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back.” Ephesians 4:26 (ESV) tells us, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” The next time you’re angry, instead of flying off the handle, give it to God. Let Him work on your anger issues.

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