FIRST Focus

How long has it been since you had a 'fit'? I speak of the time when you just blew up at someone over something that wasn't going the way you wanted it to go. Although we have all done that at some point, such behavior is not fitting for the faithful; at least those who desire to follow Christ closely.

Another 'poison' often mislabeled in our culture today is anger and a growing number of people appear to be being dosed with it every day. We don't have to listen long today to hear someone who is 'venting' over something they demand or disagree with. In this current climate, we are more aware of our surroundings than we have ever been, and angrier as a result. It is increasingly apparent that we are more divided than ever. One example being, there is seldom a day or week that goes by when you and I are not exposed to terms such as 'left' or 'right'. While those terms have evolved in determining a political position today, the terms describe personal positions that represent a stark contrast in belief and behavior. Like oil and water, two terms are incompatible. In fact, the only time the two are mixing it up is when they are agitated. And the more vigorously shaken, the more anger overflows through divisive dialogue. When the agitation calms down, like oil and water, each will separate itself from the other once again. A fleshly 'fit' might be compared to a fever that is perpetuated by the poison of pride I touched on last week. God has something to say about the 'poison' of anger in Proverbs 29:11. "A fool gives full vent to his anger." Note the word full in that verse. The fool holds nothing back. Their feelings are not held in check. Their opinion is not held in check. Their words are not held in check. Anger, when sourced in selfish pride and unleashed is worthless. It has no worth because it never builds. This kind of anger only destroys. An angry outburst is one of those expressions that no one teaches a child, at least intentionally. The nature of the flesh has a way of finding its way to the surface early in our life. Just think about a two-day-old child or a two-year-old toddler when they do not get their way or circumstances don't go their way, most will throw a tantrum (fit) to express their dislike. It may be that they are hungry, and it could be that they are sleepy but when life doesn't suit them, a child will let you know it. When the screaming and crying doesn't move the needle of their necessity, they may hold their breath and turn two or three shades of color. On the brighter and even the lighter side, at least when the child is holding their breath, they are also holding their tongue. We all relate because we all have either seen it, heard it, or done it. However, it is one thing for a child to be childlike. It is quite another for an adult to be childish. All of us are quite capable of expressing unrighteous anger as we vent worthless expressions on the world around us. And when anger is permitted to build up in the soul, our intent can be murderous. (Yes, you read that right.) All of us are quite capable of harming others fatally when anger is fully vented. It may not be the taking of a life literally but there is no difference from God's perspective in a person taking a life and a fool venting and destroying a person's character or integrity with worthless words. The potential for life is harmed intentionally. Both are easily premeditated and both can permanently destroy relationships. In such situations, the 'poison' of anger is not sourced in being filled with the Spirit but rather an instinct of personal survival at any cost that is sourced in the flesh. And the sad tragedy is that our testimony as a Christ follower no longer spreads the joy of the Lord. Instead, it spreads judgment on a life as a result of no longer being 'synced' with God in fellowship. And in the attempt to justify a position, some will counter with, 'well that's just who I am. I can't help it.' That response only reveals they are not 'synced' with the One who loves each of us faithfully and provides for us to extend the same to others. I realize that anger can be a great motivator. Anger can get people moving. However, the question we each must first ask, and answer is this, "will this bold stand, this 'move', if you will, move me closer in aligning my heart with God's purpose or will it move me and potentially others around me farther away?' In other words, will this test of faith in releasing my situation fully to God keep me from fully venting what is worthless on others? Will unloading on others move me farther away from God and farther away from others? After the 'dust-up' settles down, will it be worth it or will it be worthless? I understand there is such a thing as righteous anger and a time for it. In fact, there are over forty references in the Bible that speak of it. However, anger that is not firmly regulated by the Holy Spirit will always be ruinous, not righteous. Jesus demonstrated righteous anger perfectly in Matthew 21:12-13 when He cleared the temple of those who had turned God's house of prayer into a den of thieves. Was He misunderstood? Certainly! Was He right in doing what He did? Absolutely! And it cost Him relationally with those who thought more of their own preferences and priorities than His own as God. There is always a cost with anger. When the cost is centered in humbly standing with God for reasons that are biblically beneficial for others, then whatever the cost is, it's worth it. But when the cost is sourced from a 'dose' of the potion of pride, being under its influence will cause a person to stand up for themselves, stand with someone who 'feels' the same way in standing on a platform they think is justified. That anger is worthless. Therefore, it is foolish and costly to be carried away by it! If you find yourself in a place where the 'poison' of anger is affecting your outlook on life or even your outlook on others, there is a way to overcome it. Confess your sin (1 John 1:9) as a response of really desiring to get rid of it. Yield yourself freely to God by fully surrendering the things that are not going your way and do it with humility. God promises to provide the peace of God that surpasses all understanding when we are at peace with God. In seeking His will, His peace will overflow in your spirit and soul. Life may not be different over night, but life will look differently for you through the filter of God's love over time. "Know this, my beloved brethren: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." James 1:19-20 When you feel the 'fever' of anger building up in your soul and a 'fit coming on, yield yourselves to the love of God that provides love from God for the benefit of others. That will keep a lid on our being childish and make us more childlike in the process of growing up in Christ. This response is of utmost necessity because having a 'fit' that is sourced in the flesh is never fitting for a follower of Christ. His presence still calms the storm (Mark 4:39), Pstr K Jeremiah 29:11