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    • Slow to Anger

      In our relationship with Jesus, His goodness and grace transforms us from the inside out. His desire is to create us to be people of goodness‒good in our hearts, not only in actions. He knows that being free from destructive anger and rage is essential to our transformation. Sources referenced in these reflections are N.T. Wright’s The Early Christian Letters, Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy, and The Good and Beautiful Life by James Bryan Smith.

      Monday ‒ Ephesians 4.25-27. “By saying ‘be angry’ Paul is not encouraging anger. He recognizes it is a part of life, and instead of repressing it, he instructs that we should not let the sun go down on our anger. Anger has the potential to lead us into sin. To feel anger, to tell someone that you feel angry, and to talk about your anger are all healthy and necessary. When we let anger dwell and linger in us, we allow it to poison our souls. Unexpressed and unresolved anger give the enemy a foothold to work from.”

      Tuesday ‒ Matthew 21.12-13. “This is one of two instances in the Gospels when Jesus is reported to have become angry. In this passage, Jesus was clearly angry, yet he was also sinless. There is such a thing as righteous anger, and there is a right response to it. It consists in getting angry about the things that anger God, and then seeking a proper remedy to correct the wrong. Being angry at child abuse, the rich exploiting the poor, deception, and fraud are examples of unjust situations where righteous anger motivates us to work toward change. However, if we are honest, the majority of our anger is unrighteous and something we must learn from God how to live free from.”

      Wednesday ‒ Matthew 5.21-22. “Many people believe that righteousness is determined by external actions, such as not killing someone. But Jesus goes deeper, into the heart, the place where all actions spring. Jesus understands the human heart, and the heart is His primary concern, not just outwardly actions. The heart full of anger, the heart that hates, is not far from the heart that would murder. In fact, it is the same inner condition. Jesus can teach us how to live free from unrighteous anger. His work begins at the heart level.”

      Thursday ‒ Matthew 4.17, Matthew 6.33. “Jesus came announcing the good news that all may enter the kingdom of God. For Jesus, that was not just a nice idea, but a very real place—life with God, which is available to all. Outside the kingdom of God, we are on our own, defending and fighting for ourselves. Inside the kingdom of God, life is much different. God is with us, protecting us, caring for our well-being. Knowing this, much of our anger will diminish as we allow Him to move us from living in fear to trust of our Heavenly Father.”

      Friday ‒ James 1.19-21. “We always imagine that when the world is out of joint a little bit of our own anger will put things straight. James and Paul (Ephesians 4.26) acknowledge that there may be a type of anger that is appropriate, but insist that it must be kept severely in its place. James’ point is this. If what we want is God’s justice, His goodness, coming to sort things out, we will do better to get entirely out of the way and let God do His own work, rather than supposing our outburst of anger (which will most likely have nasty bits to it, such as wounded pride, malice, and envy) will somehow help God do what needs to be done.”

      Saturday ‒ James 1.22-25. “The way God works in us and through us is not by taking our nasty or malicious anger and somehow making it all right.The way God works, is again, through His Word. How does this happen? James’ remedy is to remind us that the word of Scripture and the message about Jesus really is the ‘perfect law of freedom’. God’s law does restrict our ‘freedom’ in some ways, but by doing so, it opens up far greater, genuine freedoms in all other ways.” As we embrace His word in obedience, it will go to work and change us.

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