Monday, January 11, 2010

You Don't Always Know What's in the Cup Until . . .

I was talking to a relationship starved believer and she said, "Why is it that you go to church, and for the most part people don't talk to you - and when they do they tell you that God is on the move?"

It's an interesting question that I believe reveals the character of others, and also reveled her anger.

It got me thinking about what makes a Christian sound like a Christian and not a hypocrite? Hmmm... As my thoughts skipped across one synapse to another, I came to the conclusion that it is easier to act like a Christian or religious person than it is to respond like one.

When we are in control, it is easy to play the part - even acting like others think we should. When others act, especially badly, our reaction is a far better indicator of where we are with Jesus.

You don't always know what's in the cup until it gets knocked over.

When people push our buttons, our reaction is controlled by us, or by God. Pick one! It is easy to say this is how I feel, and react. The Bible however says this:

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

This passage does not say that we will not be angry, it says not to sin when we are, and for us to get rid of it before we fall asleep, or the devil will get a foothold in our lives and we will have even more trouble.

For those of us that come from dysfunctional families and churches, anger can easily be a way of life. It is something to consider. We must find a sin-less way to vent our anger. Anger can easily fuel the sin that easily besets us. The Bible also talks a lot about roots - sometimes called a "root of bitterness." And we know that when a plant's root is plucked out, it can't live any longer.
During the race around my cerebellum I found a few causes for anger that maybe helpful for you.

Betrayal or Injustice - We get angry when someone that has been committed to us acts as if we didn't exist, or worse uses us for their personal gain. Immature people betray us by committing to something, and then dropping it for a "better deal." It is painful when perceived friends and family members say negative things about us to others.

Injustice is really the same, except that the target becomes something or someone we care about that is betrayed.

Jesus was betrayed by Judas.

Being Lied To - When we find out that someone has lied to us, especially about intimate and personal things, it is painful. I had a friend that told his wife "she was the only one, ever." 20 years into their marriage it somehow came out that it wasn't true, though he had never cheated on her during their courtship or marriage, she was still devastated by to proliferation of a 20 year long lie.

While we are on the subject of lying, that means withholding the truth and telling half truths, as well as fabricating out-and-out lies.

Being Verbally or Physically Attacked - Abuse and violence are damaging for obvious reasons. When others inflict pain on us emotionally or physically, our normal response is anger. As a tool for self preservation, it should be. The problem is when we are unable to escape painful and abusive situations, the scars of anger can rarely be completely healed. We are caught in a situation where anger upon anger is compounded.

Frustration - This is simply the inability to get what we want in a timely fashion. We all have a threshold for frustration. For some it is short, and others it is longer. Eventually, we will be stretched beyond of ability to control a situation to our satisfaction and become frustrated.

Unreasonable Expectations - We are shaped by many factors eventually beginning to have expectations of ourselves, of our lives, and of others. Marriages often see tiffs over unrealistic expectations. A couple goes on vacation and one wants to relax while the other wants to sight-see. They expect to visit one of others parents and the week before Thanksgiving those expectations clash. We can have expectations about work, marriage, services we purchase and many other things. When they are unreasonable, situations that do not match our expectations make us angry.

Unmet Needs - At work, at home, at church and in our relationships we are trying to have our needs met. We work to make enough money to eat, own a car, or a home, pay college tuition etc. When we can't make enough money to subsist we are drained emotionally.

At church we may expect a pastor to "do it all" and be angry when he can't make time for us.

In relationships we all have a love language or two that needs to be met. When it isn't, we feel unloved and this is a cause for anger.

Judging Other (Labeling) - I see this a lot with teenagers, they label kids putting them into certain groups. The most atrocious examples of this were Nazi Germany and Apartheid in South Africa. Of course this is judgment, and when people we see don't fit into our we liked Groups, they are move to our well disliked groups. For example, a teenager shows up at church with tattoos and piercings so we assume they are "not our type" and ignore them.

I once read about a pastor that wanted to make sure that his congregating "got it," when it came to judging. So he dressed as a homeless drunk, and lay to the side of church steps. After the worship team finished a few tunes, the leader segued to the offering and then the sermon. As he announced the sermon the homeless man came up the center aisle and took of hi overcoat and hat, and removing his gloves, he stood in the pulpit. As you can see, this is a dangerous practice.

Rationalization or Entitlement - Some how we grow into the belief that we deserve something. There are some healthy pursuits. If we go to the gym 3 times a week and eat right, we should have a reasonable expectation of losing weight. The problem for us is when we feel as if we deserve something. Christian in the process of judging others as worse than themselves (see above) often tell themselves they deserve some because they are are better, more talented, more spiritual and the like. The truth is we all deserve death, and that is why we need Jesus. In the process we build a little glass house of entitlement because we are "good."

Controlling our anger is essential. It is often beneficial to understand things as we work to bring them under the submission of Christ. But beware, we cannot think our way into holiness. We must submit to Christ, deal with our own sinfulness and continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

It is essential that we align our expectations up with the Bible. So many times we feel entitled to more than we are actually promised. That doesn't mean that God is unable, it simply means that He has priorities and they need to become our ours.

When we allow God to give us our desires, and not TV, Cosmopolitan magazine and a zillion other forms of media, He can then give us joy as He releases our desires. If you are not happy, let me simply ask, is it because you don't have what you want, or you don't have what He wants?

As I have said before, if we are in God's will, then our life is none of our business. We can go along knowing that He is with us, loves and and will empower us as needed to accomplish that tasks and circumstances set before us. When we expect more out of life than life has to offer, we get in trouble - becoming angry.

Just like a budget, we can cut expenses or make more money. Anger is like that. We need to have a remedy for what we already have, and that is forgiveness. That is how we will increase our spiritual bank account. We can cut "expenses" by learning what God wants for us, and not wasting our time on things that cause us frustration.

In short we need to grow up, and learn to focus on the treasures we have in heaven. And finally we need to apply stress relieving Biblical principals to our lives.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


Mr. and Mrs. Nurse Boy said...

Very well said! Thanks for sharing that.

Mrs. Nurse Boy

photogr said...


Great anology. Trully inspirational. You said it all.

If all would walk in the light of the Lord's grace and show mercy to others what a better world this would be.

No back stabbing, no false witnesses, no lies, no anger or animosity towards others, and showing compassion. We both know that it is not human nature to act so Godly. Even self professed good Christians have these faults. There in lies the quagmire. Actions do speak louder than words.

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