I love to read the Psalms. Yes, they are poetic. Beautiful. Full of emotion. But I also love to read them, because I find that David was all up in his feelings at times as much as I find myself most of the time.
Case in point:
Arise, O Lord!
Rescue me, my God!
Slap all my enemies in the face!
Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Psalm 3:7
Why do I resonate with this? Because I realize many of you may not operate this way. Your natural response may be to freeze and do nothing, and run away from people. My reaction to injustice or hurt is to fight. It always has been.
I was always sassy. Have been since a little girl. I spoke up. I was loud. If something was sideways or not right…I pointed it out. And if I wasn’t heard, I may have likely punched things. I tried not to punch people, so I was the girl who kicked and punched holes in walls. Nothing was off limits. Brick walls, car windows.
I know what it feels like to feel so stinking mad, like things were so unfair… you want to punch something. I’m a bit tamer now. Still sassy, but I don’t punch holes in things. No. I hold onto anger. Until it eats me up inside.
Like David, who yes…wrote some beautiful Psalms, I can get blazing mad. And let’s just be real-when we are mad, or someone has hurt us, what do we often want? Revenge. And maybe a good punch in the teeth may feel like that to us. May feel like a bit of justice, but it isn’t what God has in mind.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James 1:19, NLT
He has something more like that in mind. Less like punching people in the teeth. Less like punching out hurtful words on an email, social media post, or text.
Sure, we may all want to do these things, but they don’t show Christ in our moments of anger. We may all want to give someone a piece of our mind. Put them in their place. Have the last word, and tell them all about themselves, but it does nothing but tell them about ourselves when we start doing anything that reflects the opposite character of Christ in these heated moments.
If I really did punch someone in the teeth, who would see Christ in me? Even if they did deserve it? If I tapped out what I really wanted to say back in a text; what I really thought of their character in that moment, would they see Christ in those crafted out messages? Probably not. Surely their friends would get the screen shot, though, So my response must be one to reflect the Savior I profess to follow.
Yes, I want to in the moment say what I really feel. I want to speak my angry words. And tell people what I think of them in the moment when they have hurt me.
What I am called to as a child of God is stop. Think about what I am about to say. Let the other person finish speaking. Because let’s be honest, we don’t really listen. We listen to speak. We listen to answer. We don’t fully listen before we jump in with a response. And decide if what they said even needs to be responded to right away, or at all.
And if it does needs to be responded to, do so when you are not angry. Because anger can cause you to respond in ways you normally would not if you are calm. Remember our opener and David? Let’s respond after you have sorted through all your punching in the teeth feelings.
Scripture is clear that anger is OK. Anger is an emotion that God has given us to spur us to action. To help us to recognize and take action against injustice, but it can cross the line towards sin if we use it as a way to justify our words and hurtful actions towards others in conflict and daily interactions. In fact, Ephesians 4:26 warns “not to sin in your anger.” So, it’s likely we will come across things that will make us angry, but how will we deal with them? Like Christ, or like the world?
It’s time to listen more than we speak. To start holding our tongue a bit, or tapping it on the back of our teeth, if we feel like desire to punch someone in their’s. It’s time to decide if we need to respond and be a part of every debate. Are there some conflicts we can sit out? It may even be time to stop texting and simply picking up the phone and calling. Or if we have been hurt, maybe tap out the response you would really like to give, the one that would make you feel good, the one with ALL the things you want to say-then delete that whole paragraph, and send a Christ-like response instead, and then simply move on.
Because this is what God would want-more listening, less speaking, and whole lot less sinful anger.