Life can throw hard and hurtful things in our paths that are really difficult to cope with. What should our response to these difficulties be?
“Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 4:4-5)
Strong’s Definitions: Tremble: רָגַז râgaz, raw-gaz’; a primitive root; to quiver (with any violent emotion, especially anger or fear):—be afraid, stand in awe, disquiet, fall out, fret, move, provoke, quake, rage, shake, tremble, trouble, be wroth.
Is it okay to be angry? Yes. Is it a sin? No. The difference is in how we act while angry. Jesus was right to be angry and indignant when He entered what was meant to be a house of prayer to find it full of traders backed by the religious system who were complicit and taking backhanders. He was right to be angry and yet He didn’t sin. We know His actions were not sinful, because we know that Jesus was without sin.
Sometimes it is right to take action in response to our anger: If we see injustice, famine and sickness for example or if we see professing Christians living or behaving in an ungodly manner, we may feel angry or indignant and be driven to take action to remedy these situations; we may speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves; we may take food to the hungry; we may bring a word in season of guidance or admonition.
On the other hand when we ourselves have been misunderstood, unjustly treated, hungry or sick should we become angry or upset? Maybe. But does this entitle us to act in an ungodly way in response? No, this would be sinful and it would only makes matters worse. Ungodly behaviour added to ungodly behaviour: leads to more ungodly behaviour. A good response could lead to the possibility of a good outcome.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
Our response should always be to remember who God is, that He is our Heavenly Father, that He loves us, that he is in control and that He is totally trustworthy and because also, if anyone has our best interests in mind, it’s Him. Therefore, be angry, but do not sin.
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)
What is God’s prescribed remedy? According to His Word, the Bible, it is to “Be still”. The idea is that we stop stressing and let God ‘be God’, “The Lord will fight for you”. We should keep a close counsel, namely to ourselves; “Meditate in your heart upon your bed” (Psalm 4:4), be still, act in a righteous way and put your trust in God.
“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
It is astonishing to a simple Believer like me, that there are professing Christians who can act in ways worse than those who are not, this may include myself at times. In part, my surprise is due to a much higher expectation of the Christian and thus we can, mistakenly and naively trust them and take them in to our confidence all too quickly. It can sometimes just be due to ‘just not being there yet’ for those who genuinely desire to live right before God. But unfortunately, even Christians can be ambitious, unkind and narcissistic, not to mention that the Bible warns us of wolves in sheeps clothing (Matthew 7:15). Even then, are we permitted to behave in any way other than Godly? Of course not. I must confess, it took me a fair amount of counsel and admonition to come to this place myself after being on the receiving end of this behaviour. But most often, God in His goodness, allows us to grow in Christlikeness properly through these times of trial, so that next time, we behave correctly and in a more Godly way. This process can be painful, but, as ever God is with you and it is worth it in the longrun.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Whatever may transpire in life, God still holds us. Our circumstances do not change this reality. If we are able to hang on to this truth then we will be able to see things in their true perspective and then think, feel and behave accordingly.
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