Overcome by Anger
[H]uman anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
~ James 1:20
How often have you found yourself in this position. Somebody says something downright rude to you — or maybe it's not even directed to you, maybe somebody just says something that you think is hateful, or destructive.
Or, somebody ridicules something you said or an idea you believe. “Christians are all racist, sexist judgmental hypocrites who believe in the tooth fairy.” How's that? Or, somebody does something that offends you. Your neighbor comes into your yard and cuts off a tree limb you love. Your boss does something really stupid that you warned him not to do. Your spouse throws away your favorite shirt or doesn't clean up a mess he made, again.
And there you are, seething over it. You are lying in bed and you can't stop thinking about it. We’ve all been there.
Forgiveness is not a natural instinct, generally. It is one of those “contrary to nature commandments” given to us by Christ. And when we are really cut to the heart, someone’s sin against us can stay with us our entire lives. It poisons us. It burns like a tiny piece of hellfire in our heart, never extinguished, never ceasing to give us pain, for that is exactly what hatred is: hell on earth. Not in the figurative sense, either: in the literal sense. Born of the fall, issued by Satan, condemning us to eternal torment.
And when we realize this, we can remember the one person who can save us from hell, Jesus Christ the Righteous. His call to forgiveness is not a call to benefit those who do evil to us; Christ will judge them. It is not a call to promote lies, for we may always speak the truth. It is a call for us to find the peace and comfort that can only come from the Kingdom of Heaven. If anger keeps us awake, it is call to forgiveness, for anger is one sin we need not continue to suffer from during our life.
Prayer is the answer. If anger keeps you awake, pray long, pray deep, pray the impossible. Pray for the person who offended you, and not the easy prayer that “they may see the error of their ways.” Do not pray to change them; pray to change yourself. Pray for them to be rich, successful, and famous if that is what it takes for you to see through your anger. Love them. Your anger will not leave — you will not cast Satan out of your heart — until you love the person who offended you as God loves them.
Sleep well, my friend. Accept your own forgiveness, forgive others their trespasses, and leave it to God to judge the sins of others.
Lord, lead me to true and total love and forgiveness of my enemies. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer