We live in a sports-obsessed world where winning, getting our fair share, demanding our “rights” and looking out for ourselves is justified, even admired. Our fortunes — or at least our attitudes — often hinge on whether or not our teams win or whether our perceived needs and wants are fulfilled. But winning is not love and neither is the pride or justification in winning — or even in being right.
When Oswald Chambers was running his Bible Training College, the house manager and his wife who were in charge of the kitchen were caught skimming food and linens. Clearly, they were cheating the college — “winning” something for themselves through thievery. After the situation was brought to Chambers’ attention, however, Chambers didn’t get angry and fire the couple on the spot. Instead, he left the situation in God’s hands. He said, “Don’t do anything. We’ll tell God and leave it completely.”* Instead of getting angry, he prayed.
Some of the students who knew about the thefts were indignant. They felt that Chambers should punish the perpetrators, that he had a right, even a responsibility, to do so. They were not used to people living the scripture’s truth that love is not easily angered and does not keep score. In the end, the Holy Spirit touched the wife’s conscience and she confessed their misdeeds.
Retribution can feel good and anger can seem justified, especially when there is genuine harm, as with the Bible college’s meager budget, or when a debate such as abortion or sexual abuse can hinge on life and death. But anger is not the model Christ gave us in First Corinthians. Instead, he taught us to respond with God’s love, the kind that does not anger, that does not keep score — the kind that instead looks past the obvious to grasp the heavenly. When situations occur that might naturally trigger an angry response to a loss or a slight — or even to a grave injustice — and we respond with unexpected love, unconditional forgiveness and unabashed grace, then a world embroiled in conflict is touched by the supernatural, powerful and transformational love of Christ Jesus.
*from Mrs. Oswald Chambers by Michelle Ule, Baker Books, 2017.
Repent: In what circumstances are you most prone to anger? Why do you think that is? What does it say about what you believe about God? Confess and repent.
Respond: In an excellent article, “Lay Aside the Weight of Irritability,” author Jon Bloom explores being easily annoyed or angered. It’s worth a read. In his article, he suggests ways to STOP being irritable. Think through these suggestions and give them a try.