Have you ever been surprised by the strength of your own anger? Or your patience suddenly runs out when you didn’t even realize that your store was depleted? Sometimes I am shocked by how quickly things can go downhill when I lose my calm, and get even the smallest measure of anger in my voice. It affects everyone in the house.
I have been trying to memorize verses that I can use to combat these feelings when they arise- one of my favorites is James 1: 19-27. (I have just memorized verse 19)
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Honestly, I am the exact opposite of that most of the time. I am not slow to speak, and I can get angry at the drop of a hat and not even know why. My daughter and I have been talking a lot about self-control b/c she will get frustrated when trying to learn something new. I talk to her about being patient and asking for help when she needs it. I could really use several servings of my own advice.
So much of true change for me begins with awareness of bad habits or sins that are negatively affecting those around me, or just preventing me from being obedient to God b/c I am distracted by bad choices and negative behaviors. I have to pay attention- and when I see the train starting to derail- I have to change course, pick things up and move back onto the tracks.
That’s a conscious choice in the heat of the moment- and more times than I like- I chose to be selfish and hold onto my anger or to ignore the Holy Spirit’s leading- but I am trying to be a better listener- and praying for God to continually throw me in that fire, because I want to be refined and changed.
I want to be a better listener- not just waiting for my turn to talk but someone who engages people and stops long enough to really see them and actively listen. I want to be someone who thinks about giving and not just about taking- I feel so convicted b/c I did that tonight- I went to an event thinking about what I was going to get out of it and not looking to see how God might want to use me to encourage someone else.
I want to learn patience- even if it hurts. I want to persevere- a lady from our church said that “perseverance is long obedience in the same direction.”
21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
I want to close with this verse- because this is my prayer- by planting God’s Word in my heart (Ps. 119:11) I believe I can turn from the sin that trips me up-draw on my self-control, and say no to anger and loss of control. We are promised freedom and that we will be blessed in all that we do.
Praying for these words to wash over me anew, preparing me for the challenges of a new day.