“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) As Christians during times of difference and conflict, what fruit does the world see in us?
Times of conflict as a result of differing opinions within an organization are inevitable. However, that is when we must examine our hearts, our thoughts, our motives, our attitudes, our actions, and our words thoroughly. We must spend time in God’s Word and prayer asking God to search us and reveal our short comings, help us to grow, and help us to do what is pleasing to him. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23
One of the most lethal weapons within the Church (the body of Christ) is words spoken in uncontrolled anger. We all tend to use words carelessly and recklessly. So often we speak without giving consideration to the specific words we chose or our tone when speaking them. The truth is we all get angry at times, Jesus did also but there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to use words and deal with anger.
The Word warns us to “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 We must stand firm and united to prevent the enemy from using our words and our anger to cause sin, division, and destruction within the Church. Following is a wonderful study from Liberty University for us to apply in our own lives regarding anger and how Jesus dealt with His own anger.
A study from Liberty University regarding Jesus’ anger:
Question: “Was Jesus ever angry?”
Answer: When Jesus cleared the temple of the moneychangers and animal-sellers, He showed great emotion and anger (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; John 2:13-22). Jesus’ emotion was described as “zeal” for God’s house (John 2:17). His anger was pure and completely justified because at its root was concern for God’s holiness and worship. Because these were at stake, Jesus took quick and decisive action. Another time Jesus showed anger was in the synagogue of Capernaum. When the Pharisees refused to answer Jesus’ questions, “He looked around at them in anger, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts” (Mark 3:5).
Many times, we think of anger as a selfish, destructive emotion that we should eradicate from our lives altogether. However, the fact that Jesus did sometimes become angry indicates that anger itself, as an emotion, is amoral. This is borne out elsewhere in the New Testament. Ephesians 4:26 instructs us “in your anger do not sin” and not to let the sun go down on our anger. The command is not to “avoid anger” (or suppress it or ignore it) but to deal with it properly, in a timely manner. We note the following facts about Jesus’ displays of anger:
1) His anger had the proper motivation. In other words, He was angry for the right reasons. Jesus’ anger did not arise from petty arguments or personal slights against Him. There was no selfishness involved.
2) His anger had the proper focus. He was not angry at God or at the “weaknesses” of others. His anger targeted sinful behavior and true injustice.
3) His anger had the proper supplement. Mark 3:5 says that His anger was attended by grief over the Pharisees’ lack of faith. Jesus’ anger stemmed from love for the Pharisees and concern for their spiritual condition. It had nothing to do with hatred or ill will.
4) His anger had the proper control. Jesus was never out of control, even in His wrath. The temple leaders did not like His cleansing of the temple (Luke 19:47), but He had done nothing sinful. He controlled His emotions; His emotions did not control Him.
5) His anger had the proper duration. He did not allow His anger to turn into bitterness; He did not hold grudges. He dealt with each situation properly, and He handled anger in good time.
6) His anger had the proper result. Jesus’ anger had the inevitable consequence of godly action. Jesus’ anger, as with all His emotions, was held in check by the Word of God; thus, Jesus’ response was always to accomplish God’s will.
When we get angry, too often we have improper control or an improper focus. We fail in one or more of the above points. This is the wrath of man, of which we are told “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20). Jesus did not exhibit man’s anger, but the righteous indignation of God.
Questions we should ask ourselves are:
- What is my motivation?
- Am I angry because I’m offended?
- Am I being selfish?
- Am I angry with sinful behavior or the person?
- What is the source of my anger; love for another person or ill will?
- Am I in control of my anger? Are my behaviors glorifying the Lord? Are they helping others or hurting them?
- Is the nature of my anger sinful?
- How long have I been angry about this situation? Am I becoming bitter? Am I doing all that I can to resolve this situation in love for those involved?
- Is the Lord pleased by my motives, my thoughts, my words, and my behavior in this situation? Are my actions Godly? Are my actions in agreement with the Word?
- Is the focus of my anger to accomplish God’s will or my own?
Before we speak out in anger and say something that we cannot take back and will regret later, we should always spend time with God in prayer and in the Word. We should examine these questions and ask him to search our hearts.
Heavenly Father, there will be situations in this world that will inevitably anger us. Help us Father to always seek you and your will in these situations. Remind us Father, that though we are living in this world we are not of this world. Search our hearts and motives, Father. Reveal to us our shortcomings while helping us to grow in you. Help us to always use words that edify our brothers and sisters instead of hurting or offending them. Help us to be alert to the enemy and his motives. Give us wisdom, faith, and strength to stand firm against the enemy in unity and prevent him from using our differences to cause division and destruction. Help us to always do that which is pleasing to you in a way that will honor and glorify YOU! We seek your will in all things instead of ours, Father. YOUR will be done in all things! In the precious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.