Wednesday, January 28, 2015

100 Days on Jesus’ Sermon Mount (Day 18)

Jesus said, “I am telling you, however, that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister must be brought to justice. Further, anyone who says to their brother or sister, ‘You fool!’ must face trial before the assembly, and anyone who addresses another person as ‘Stupid’ deserves the fires of the rubbish tip.
— Matthew 5:22 (USC)
Anger management is a program domestic violence perpetrators take when they are found out in the process of legal proceedings. But, the truth is, we all must manage our anger, for if we don’t our anger will manage us.
Anger causes us to do great damage to those we both love and despise. It causes tangible damage that we would otherwise see. And it also causes intangible damage psychologically. Little wonder that Jesus wants it dealt with swiftly.
The tongue has a great deal of negative power when it is at the whip hand of our impatience and intolerance. James chapter 3 talks about this in detail. The tongue cuts things down, sets entire forests alight, is so powerful for its size, and has been known to ruin 20-year reputations in one sentence.
What drives the lashing tongue is the heart of visceral malcontent.
Where we are so driven to exact our own justice, anger will justify every sense of foolish self-righteousness. And, because righteous indignation is such a delicate balance, we are most likely to tip into self-righteousness.
But if we are patient and tolerant and necessarily dependent on God, we will have self-control to peruse many of our words before we say them. We will think a little while longer before we act. We will determine indirect paths as the ways of patience and wisdom.
Not every way that appears right to us is right. And we only know this through the discernment of retrospect. We are wise, only, from rear-view vision.
We are wise to watch our words, and smarter still to rethink them. Anger will not be disguised when it is deployed full force. It is always much better to consider the improvements we can make to our own hearts, before we insist on how others may improve themselves.
Friends are made easily when we are more concerned about how we may love them than we are about how they should love us.
1.     What kind of names do you find yourself calling people? We know that Christians aren’t supposed to call people names, but the truth is we do exactly that sometimes, even if under our breath. How is God to help you?
2.     How do you manage your anger proactively? Do you disclose and discuss it?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr. Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.

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