Anger is a two sided coin. On one side, there is righteous or holy anger. The other side of the coin is sinful and destructive anger. As Christ Followers, it is imperative that we understand the anger issue. Anger isn’t always sinful, but it always has the potential to be sinful.
“In your anger do not sin” Ephesians 4:26 is a verse that makes it pretty clear that we can be angry without sin. In fact, we should absolutely be angry about the things that anger God. Yep, that’s right…..God gets angry too. However, He isn’t like us…..His anger is always sinless and perfect. Our anger becomes righteous anger only when it lines up with God. Injustice, sin, dishonesty and devaluing life all anger our God, so we should absolutely get angry about these things. The point is that in that anger we are forbidden to sin. We have a choice. Out of control anger always ends up controlling us.
We see a stunning example of unrighteous and destructive anger in the Biblical book of Genesis. Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Able. These brothers both offered sacrifices to God, but only Able’s was accepted by Him. This angered Cain immensely, and God lovingly warned him that his anger would destroy him if he didn’t get on top of it. Genesis 4:6-7 gives us this warning. God’s command to Cain was to rule over his sinful anger! You and I MUST get control of our anger. We must do something about it. Cain refused, and it led him to murder his own brother.
Unresolved anger sets up in our heart like a stagnant body of water. It begins to breed the bacteria and insects of bitterness, wrath and malice. It becomes destructive to the angry person and those around him. Don’t let this happen to you. Avoid the trap that Cain stepped into. Your relationships with others and with God will be better off when you deal with the roots of your anger and get the water of your heart moving again. This is a work that only God can ultimately do in our hearts. We must, by the power of the Holy Spirit, begin to get on top of our anger, before it gets on top of us.
God asked Cain a penetrating question; “Why are you angry?” It’s a question all of us must answer in order to begin the healing and transforming process in our hearts. Why are we angry? What the REAL reason? I challenge you today to look in your heart and truly answer that question. Once you’ve identified the infested pond of water, bust open the dam and get it moving. Deal with it. Resolve it. Get God involved by asking Him to help you. It’s this process that Cain refused but we must embrace.
Words are powerful little things. They can bring great joy and deep despair. They can arouse powerful emotions and urge us to action. A simple combination of letters forms what can be a power packed form of communication. We live in a world where words are thrown around in an endless universe of communication, information, and language. Often, we forget the power of our words. I hope this is a reminder to watch, shape, and better use your words.
The scriptures have much to say about our words. Proverbs 13:3 states “He who guards his mouth keeps his life, but he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” Yep, that’s pretty powerful. It is clear that we should be extremely careful in how we choose to use our words. This verse teaches that our words can become harmful and destructive to ourselves. We need to be careful that what we say doesn’t get us into a mess. Careless speech is an icy highway of words that can quickly cause spiraling destruction in your relationships and profession.
Our words can also have a huge impact on others. Proverbs 15:4 states “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger”. How many fights and conflicts could we all have avoided if we would have used our words more carefully? What you say and how you say it matters more than you could ever imagine. In light of this truth, we should all take much more care to choose our words wisely.
Proverbs 18:21 makes it clear that “the tongue has the power of life and death”. When you and I speak, do our words give life or death? The next time you have interaction with someone or about someone, ask this question: Is what I’m about to say life or death giving? This is a powerful question that can serve as a filter to catch your words before they do great damage.
Also notice that your words can have incredible positive impact. The scriptures teach us the “right word and the right time is like medicine”. This is so true! We all have had someone say kind and encouraging words to us at the right time and they were truly healing. I encourage you today to take an inventory of the way you use your words. You choose to do great damage or great good. The “words” are in your court.
God made your mind and He wants you to love Him with it. One of the major distinguishing characteristics that separates us from the rest of creation is our intellect. The human mind is an amazing work of God’s creative power. Sadly, this seems to be one of the most ignored aspects of our love for God. Mark 12:30 records Jesus telling to love God with our heart, soul, MIND and strength. To love Him completely your mind must be involved.
The problem is that over the past couple of decades it seems a strong wind of anti-intellectualism has blown into the church world. The “experience God” movement , while positive in many ways, shoved the pursuit of the knowledge of God to the background. This is detrimental because God wants us to know Him and know about Him!! The more you know God the more you’ll love God.
Knowledge and intellect have gotten a bit of a bad wrap because there’s no doubt that it can lead to arrogance and pride. We’ve all seen the brand new theologian armed with a specific theological system become puffed up in a way that both annoys and harms. We shouldn’t allow this to deter us from seeking to know God on an intellectual level. Knowledge can puff up, but it does not have to puff up.
The Apostle Paul made it clear that if your knowledge leads you to pride then you don’t know what you think you know. Knowledge of God should never lead us to be prideful, but instead to deep humility. Allowing your knowledge of God to lead you to pride is like a mountain climber getting 50 feet up the face of Mt. Everest and beginning to brag about it. It’s crazy!! He still has so far to go. You and I could learn something new and deep about God everyday for the rest of our lives and still be scratching the surface of God’s greatness.
We need to love Him with our MIND. To do this, we need to start with the truth, God’s Word. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us. God specially revealed Himself to us through Jesus and His Word. When you read the Word and think on the Word and study the Word you are loving God with your mind. I invite you to join me and my church on an 85 day reading plan in the New Testament. This is a great way to get started. Here is the link. Whatever you choose to do, get started loving God with your mind!!
I’ve been reading books since I was a boy. My Grandma (nanny) worked at our local public library, so I had endless access to books on dinosaurs, tornadoes, animals, and cars. I’m still so grateful to her for encouraging me to love books. My mother, recognizing my love of books, got me in to a disney book club where I received a great little book once a month by mail. It was great. At 9 years old I was given a kids picture bible that I literally wore out reading from cover to cover over and over. It was when I began to love the Story of God. My next big jump into reader land was at 13 when my church hired the youth pastor who would be my first ministry mentor and also teach me to love the Bible and great Christian authors. He was a huge Max Lucado fan, and since I wanted to be like Bro. Craig, I became a Max Lucado reading machine during my teens.
During college and seminary, my reading both required and voluntarily only increased. Over the years I have developed different means of retaining the many nuggets of gold I find in different books I read. My wife bought me a set of the great Charles Spurgeon’s sermons for our first Christmas. They’ve been priceless. The wonderful systematic theologies that sit on my shelves are so beautiful and rich. Books like Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” and John Eldredge’s “Wild at Heart” were game changers in my life. My reading of a trilogy of biographies on the life of Theodore Roosevelt have inspired me in ways I could write 20 blog posts to explain. Reading has enriched me, trained me, and helped me along my path…..and it will you too, if you will read!!
I want to encourage you to become a reader. Just try it for a while and I really think you will be hooked. Sadly, many people haven’t read a book since they left high school or college. Turn the tv off and get a book!! Read on topics that apply to your life and your life stage. Read biographies on people that will inspire you. Read on marriage and parenting. More than anything, read God’s Word!! Then, read books to help you understand His Word. This will deepen your life in ways I can’t describe.
I’ve been personally poured into and mentored by people like Rick Warren, Andy Stanley, John Maxwell, and Mark Driscoll. I’ve had conversations with Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Spurgeon. How you may ask? No, I’m not friends with these folks (some are dead!). It’s because I’ve read their books. When you read, it’s like sitting down with an author for a while. It is having someone often far smarter and more experienced that you pour into your life. So, read my friends. You won’t regret it.
3 suggestions for reading:
1) Take it slow at first. Reading a chapter a day will get you through a couple books a month. So you could potentially read 24 books this year!!
2) Read with friends. Get a few friends and read a book together. Discuss the chapters and insights. You build community and friendships.
3) Take notes. Find a way to capture the applications and highlights from your reading.