Dec 3, 2009
Dec 3, 2009
Yesterday we learned how to deal with anger in our life. Today we’ll discover God’s principle for preventing long-term bitterness. The key is to deal with this emotion promptly.
It’s important to realize that believers can have moments of anger and still remain right with God. Yet anger that lingers and festers is an opportunity for Satan. He quickly plants justifications in our mind: That person deserves to be yelled at. You shouldn’t be treated that way! God understands that you’re frustrated. By handing people excuses to harbor fury, Satan creates a stronghold in their life. It is a foolish person who allows anger to reside in his or her heart (Eccl. 7:9).
We are not to lay even one brick for the devil’s stronghold. Instead, believers must respond to provocation by forgiving others as God forgives. His mercy is unconditional; there’s no wrong that He will not pardon. Believers with long-standing anger cannot come before God and justify harboring resentment. So we must release it at once through forgiveness.
We can further protect ourselves by identifying frequent irritants. When those situations (or people) loom, we should pray that God makes us “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19). That is the spiritual fruit of self-control in action.
Anger produces only rotten fruit—such as sour relationships or a poor witness. The wise believer takes a two-fold approach to dealing with it. First, heeding the Bible’s many warnings about this dangerous emotion, be vigilant against it. And second, forsake your anger in favor of forgiveness.
The KGB finally got what it wanted—the separation of church and Bible in the West—with disastrous results.
Two majors with the KGB stood over Gavin Ashenden, who was caught smuggling Bibles into the old Soviet Union during the eighties. Who were his contacts, and where were the Bibles going? If Ashenden didn’t cooperate, the KGB officers warned, he’d be convicted of smuggling gold bullion into the country—because of his gold wedding ring! Alas, this trumped up charge was no joke. The sentence was 20 years in a Siberian labor camp.
But Ashenden stood firm, and they finally let him go.
If only Christians in the West would do likewise when it comes to the Bible. Ashenden, who’s an Anglican priest and a contributor to the BBC, was back in Russia this month and got an earful from some of the Russian people, who accused Western Christians of capitulating to secular culture, especially when it comes to the redefinition of marriage. They told him “we have lived under the dead weight of atheist secularism, and we know how empty and dangerous it is to human flourishing.”
In “Anglican Ink” Ashenden notes that when the Marxists took control of Russia a century ago, they first set their sights on Christians and the churches—and they’re doing it again. As before, he adds, “The cultural and political screws are slowly tightening against those who do read the Bible and keep faith with it in the public space.”
Tragically, many Christians—or at least those who identify as Christians—have given up the Bible, which Ashenden calls “the bedrock of the church”—without a whimper of protest. A recent survey says that 60 percent of the members of the Church of England “never” read the Bible—that’s right, never. It’s little wonder that so many churches there are dying. As Ashenden notes, “Only the Bible challenges the claims of secularism.”
According to researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli, biblical illiteracy is running rampant on this side of the Pond, too. Fewer than one in two adults can name the four Gospels. Many Christians cannot name more than two or three of Jesus’s disciples. They say America is “a nation of biblical illiterates.”
No wonder our culture is awash in confusion. What Amos wrote centuries ago is just as true in our day: “‘The time is surely coming,’ says the Sovereign LORD, ‘when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the LORD.’” That was a word of judgment—to the people of Israel and to us today.
We miss out on so much when we fail to tap the Bible’s power. Charles Spurgeon once said, “If you wish to know God you must know his word; if you wish to perceive his power you must see how he worketh by his word; if you wish to know his purpose before it is actually brought to pass you can only discover it by his word.”
In this, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation—which gave the Word of God back to the people, proclaimed it as the final authority in the Christian life, and unleashed its liberating power in society—it is a scandal that so few Christians read it.
Our worldview is rooted in the Bible. We would not know God, our Savior, or our purposes in this world as beings made in God’s image without it. So let’s get back into it—not with grousing, but with gratitude. Come to BreakPoint.org for some resources to help you better understand and enjoy the Word of God. One is Stan Guthrie’s great book, “God’s Story in 66 Verses: Understand the Entire Bible by Focusing on Just One Verse in Each Book.” Another is Martin Luther’s Garland Prayer of Four Strands—it’s easy and helpful!
At Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, she was presented with a Bible and told, “Here is Wisdom; this is the Royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God.” If we believe that, as the KGB certainly did, let’s tap that lively power—starting today!
Eric Metaxas is the host of the “Eric Metaxas Show,” a co-host of “BreakPoint” radio and a New York Times #1 best-selling author whose works have been translated into more than twenty languages.
Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published by BreakPoint.
By Eric Metaxas
“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.” (1 Peter 3:10-11)
The venerable English word “eschew” is not used much these days, perhaps because there is not much evil that people eschew any more. Nevertheless, a wonderful formula is couched in this terminology in our text. If anyone desires to “see good days,” then he should “eschew evil,” even in his speech and instead “do good.”
The Greek word translated “eschew” here is ekklineo, meaning “incline away from.” That is, instead of having an attitude that “inclines toward” evil, as the world does, the Christian’s inclination must be its polar opposite.
The word is used only two other times in the New Testament. “Mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). We are not only to eschew evil words and deeds, but also evil men who teach things contrary to God’s Word. The other occurrence refers to what ungodly men eschew. “They are all gone out of the way . . . there is none that doeth good” (Romans 3:12). Here ekklineo is translated “gone out of the way.” The ungodly eschew doing good; those who would love real life and see good days must do good and eschew evil.
That such an attitude honors and pleases God is especially evident from His thrice-repeated testimony concerning the patriarch Job, a man that “feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3), “a perfect and an upright man.” Job saw some bad days, of course, but there were far more good days of great blessing until he finally died “full of days” (Job 42:17). Like Job, let us eschew—shun, avoid, run away from—evil in any form. HMM
Another of David’s grandest Psalms is—Psalm 104. which our space compels us to read almost without comment.
Probably alluding to the flood.
At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up by the mountains; rising in mists and exhalations
they go down by the valleys rippling in rills, leaping in cataracts
So that each place has its creature, and each creature its place. The loneliest spots are populous.
Thus each period has its appropriate action, the wheels of providence never stand still.
God is in all things, great or small. He has not left the world to mere laws and forces, but he is working everywhere. Let us behold him and adore.
And if he does so, it is not wise on our part to close our eyes to nature’s beauties under the notion of superior spirituality.
For they alone spoil creation, and blot the Maker’s handiwork.
1 Peter 3:8
When Denise and I first got married, I got upset with her one day over something very silly Such a small issue shouldn’t have upset me, but I was just beginning to learn how to be a husband, and Denise was learning to be a wife. As often happens when a couple first gets married, we got our wires crossed and misunderstanding resulted. And on this particular occasion, I allowed myself to get all worked up over nothing!
That day I sternly reprimanded Denise for what had transpired. Even though I knew I was raising my voice and speaking in a tone that wasn’t exactly kind, it was almost as if I had tapped into a volcano on the inside of me. I felt like I was about to explode. I knew that if I didn’t get a grip on myself, I would soon be saying overblown, angry words that I would later regret. It was suddenly clear to me that I was allowing the devil to blow this thing all out of proportion in my mind. So in order to get control of my emotions, I walked away and found a place where I could pray.
When I got alone with the Lord, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Would you speak with that tone of voice to any other woman at the church?”
I said, “No, I would never speak to any of the other women in the church the way I just spoke to my wife. Even if they did something very wrong and made me angry, I would treat them with courtesy simply because they are my sisters in Christ.”
The Holy Spirit answered, “Well, not only is Denise your wife, she is your sister in Christ. From this moment forward, even if you are upset with her, show her the same respect you would show any other sister.”
That word from the Holy Spirit changed my life. Denise was my sister in Christ before we got married, and the fact is, she is still my sister in Christ even though we are now joined together as husband and wife. If for no other reason, I should speak to her graciously and with dignity simply out of respect for her as my sister in the Lord. This shed new light for me on Peter’s words in First Peter 3:8, where he said that husbands and wives are to “love as brethren.”
The words “love as brethren” are from the Greek word Philadelphia, a compound of the words philos and adelphos or adelphia. The word philos describes friendship and carries the idea of affection and a profound love for someone who is dear. The words adelphos and adelphia are the Greek words for a brother and a sister, respectively. When philos is compounded with one of these two words, the compound word means to love as a brother or to love as a sister.
It may seem strange to some that Peter tells husbands and wives to love as brethren. But the fact is, this is the most eternal part of the marriage relationship.
For instance, when Denise and I eventually go to Heaven, we will no longer be husband and wife, but we will be brother and sister in Christ. During our journey here on earth, we have partnered together as a marital team. I thank God that He joined me to Denise in this life in this particular relationship. But our long-term status and our most vital relationship is as a brother and sister in Christ. That aspect of our relationship will last throughout eternity.
So if you are ever tempted to get upset with your believing spouse, remember that he or she is first your brother or sister in the Lord. Then give your mate the same courtesy you would give any other brother or sister in the Christian community!
Lord, please forgive me for the times I have spoken wrongly to my spouse. Help me to never take my spouse for granted again, but to always remember that if for no other reason, I should speak kindly to my mate out of respect for his (or her) position in Christ. I admit I’ve done wrong in the way I’ve spoken to my mate in the past. I know I wouldn’t speak that way to anyone else in the church. Please help me to love my spouse as one of my brethren in the Lord and to reverence the Holy Spirit who lives in him (or her).
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I treat my spouse as a brother (or sister) in Christ. I speak to my spouse with respect; I reverence the Spirit of God who lives inside him (or her); and I honor my mate as a part of the Body of Christ. As God works in me and transforms me day by day, I am becoming more controlled and more temperate in the way I relate to my spouse. I don’t fly off the handle with him (or her) and say things that are unacceptable to say to a brother or sister in Christ.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Loss of Self — Equating self-worth with career success: Any setback or change shakes us to the core. Three men in Tokyo simultaneously hung themselves in a downtown hotel, after going bust.
“Some… [measuring] themselves by themselves and [comparing] themselves with themselves,… are not wise… A dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest… ” (2 Corinthians 10:12b; Luke 22:24)
Compromise of Integrity — Operating on the ethics of expediency: Underneath is a vague sense of self-betrayal; a chipping away of integrity. In our upward climb we can easily be trapped in the seductive chase for power and recognition.
“You test the heart and are pleased with integrity… The Lord detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.” (1 Chronicles 29:17b; Proverbs 11:20)
Inflated notions of importance — Drawing the fallacious assumption that we are indispensable: With the need to prop up our sagging ego, we place an inflated sense of importance on our unique qualifications, experience and capabilities. (My bet is that if we dematerialized tomorrow, the ranks would close in around us, and we would be little more than a fading memory.)
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment…” (Romans 12:3b)
Hopelessness and stagnation — The inescapable result of those in business and the professions who fail to realize the futility of the career as an end in itself: Inevitably, a “been there, done that” feeling begins to resonate through the bones. Sadly, by the time that happens we may already be trapped.
“So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:17)
Loneliness and isolation — The unavoidable consummation of one who has scant regard for established values and authority, and who abuses people for personal gain.
“All his days he eats in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger… ” (Ecclesiastes 5:17)
In business, we are free to choose any path we so desire, but we are not free to control the consequences.
Question: Are you prepared to live with the certain aftermath of your business choices?