And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Vol 13, Num 43, 11/28/2010
In this issue:
The cause of Christ has been harmed and souls have been lost due to supposed “Christians” who could not control their temper. I know of one case where two brethren had a fist fight in the church building as a result of their differences. I have seen an elder and his wife both lose control to the point of shouting and shaking fingers in the face of others. I even know of one case where a former preacher made a threat of violence on a faithful brother in a business meeting. Sadder still is the fact that in each case, those supposed “Christians” not only justified their ungodly actions, but were joined by others who justified them as well. The sinful anger and wrath has been given the benign label of “intensity” or “frustration” or some other term rather than what it really is – SIN. Whatever whitewashed phrase one might use to describe it, the fact remains that it condemns the soul. Yet, the condemnation of the wrathful person is often just the start of the harm done. How many churches have been split because of such evil? How much harm has been brought to the cause of Christ by those more interested in venting their selfish desires rather than subjecting self will to the greater needs of the cause? How much good has been made impossible by letting a lost world see or hear of such ungodly displays and turn away from the gospel because of the unrighteous example? Be sure that God will one day face the wrathful one with such questions in the Judgment.
The Bible has much to say upon the subject of controlling our temper. God repeatedly condemns the one who is quick to anger, but He praises those who let reason predominate over wrath. Let us notice a few examples:
Proverbs 14:29 - “He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly.” The person who continually flies off the handle does not learn from situations and become wiser, but lingers in ignorance. The person who controls anger learns something from every occasion that will make him a better person.
Proverbs 29:22 - “An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression.” An anger which is not controlled always brings other sins along with it. The fury of one so driven by anger leads him to do many things that more rational thought would have prevented.
Matthew 5:22 - “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” Unreasonable anger is not only foolish, but will cause one to lose his soul. The rash words vented in anger are not a harmless release of steam, but an evidence of sin which will cause one to spend eternity with the devil in hell.
Ephesians 4:26, 31 - “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath... Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” Anger should not be allowed to dwell in one’s heart and fester into raging wrath. It must be pushed out of the heart immediately “with all malice” never to return again. That means today and not tomorrow! Consider Matthew 5:23-24. Giving more time to a wrathful person in hopes of peace being achieved will only guarantee future outbursts, less peace and the loss of souls.
Proverbs 22:24-25 - “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.” Not only does the unbridled wrath of an angry man bring trouble to himself, it also brings great turmoil for those who would associate with such a person. Thus, God instructs us to keep our distance from a wrathful person lest we suffer from the fallout of his fiery temper.
Proverbs 17:27 - “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.” Usually, a rash temper and constant talker occupy the same body. The traits prevent one from gaining understanding. The wrathful man is often the same one who engages in filibuster to justify self instead of opening the Scripture and calmly discussing differences.
Proverbs 16:32 - “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” Patience and an even temper will aid us far more than strength in this life. More importantly, such a demeanor is necessary to please God and share an eternal home in heaven with Him (2 Pet. 1:5-11).
Proverbs 19:11 - “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and it is to his glory to overlook a transgression.” A patient man of wisdom recognizes that it is often best to suffer a wrong in silence. He does not try to retaliate for perceived wrongs done to him (Rom. 12:17-21). Vengeance only works to make a bad situation worse by increasing hostility.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 - “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.” That’s plain enough, isn’t it?
Instead of being rash, the Bible instructs us to follow a different path. James says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:19-21). In our speech, we must concentrate on hearing others and honestly evaluating the information they have to share before we react. When we think about their points, we may be persuaded by them and we will certainly be less inclined towards rash action in anger. Nowhere is calm, thoughtful discussion needed more than in discussions about religious matters.
The main aid to greater patience is found in filling our minds with God’s word. It is the ultimate source of a more peaceful spirit. The word of God is filled with the things Philippians 4:8 tells us to think upon: Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things.
It is a sad fact that business meetings have received the nickname “World War III” because of the too frequent display of rash anger on the part of some brethren. Neither is the problem a “male thing” alone as can be noted by the number of churches where unified work in the kingdom is impossible due to petty squabbling born of wrath and bitterness originating from women given to gossip and slander. Those who disturb God’s cause with such behavior will give account for their actions before His throne one day.
-Reason for Hope, November 21, 2010
Good news arrived this week about the improved health of friends and fellow Christians. A new child was born this week to the Holt family – more good news. At such times we rejoice and thank the Lord for His blessings and say, “God is good”.
We also received news this week that the health of some friends and brethren had worsened. They face painful challenges that daily test their endurance and faith. When trials and troubles come are we to conclude that God is not good? No, a thousand times no! As Job experienced great loss he said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:21-22). During times of dreadful trial we will continue to say, “God is good”.
God is good because He knows our needs and supplies them in Christ. Paul wrote, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). With David, the righteous say “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psa 23:1). His eye is on the sparrow, and “you are of more value than many sparrows”. Therefore, “do not fear” what man can do to you (Matt 10:28-31). Observing God’s constant feeding of the birds frees our hearts from anxiety by assuring us of His constant care for us (Matt 6:25-26). Let us not fret and allow our faith to falter and fail when tempted and tried: God is good.
God is good because He hears and answers prayers for our good. Our Heavenly Father gives good gifts to those who ask Him (Matt 7:11). The blessed access God gives us in Christ to come before His throne and there pour out our supplications assures us of His care for us. There we “obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:15-16). God knows when we hurt and when we rejoice. We are convinced “that all things work together for good to those who love God; to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). Let us never conclude in a moment of struggle that God no longer hears or responds to our cries for help: God is good (read 2 Tim 4:16-18).
God is good because He rules and all is well. The overriding providence of God exceeds our ability to measure His sovereign acts of goodness toward us all: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Rom 11:33) When the day looks its darkest it is the righteous who live by faith and continue to reverently submit to God. As Habakkuk announced the eventual fall of the arrogant Babylonians he declares that “the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Hab 2:20, 4). Christians are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us”. When it appears the wicked prevail while the righteous suffer we assure our faith that without fail, “God is good” (Rom 8:37, 31-34).
God is good because He saves sinners. He alone can save us. By His love, mercy and wisdom He has accomplished our redemption (Eph 2:1, 4-9; 1:3-12; 3:10-11). The kindness and love of God has appeared in Jesus Christ, calling sinners to believe, repent and be baptized to be saved (Titus 3:4-5; Acts 2:37-38).
Without doubt and in fullness of faith we constantly affirm that “God is good”!
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psalm 112:1-6
1. Col 3:10, 12:
The Christian’s character is the spiritual clothing of the new man (2 Cor
I. GOD IS KIND TO US, Titus 3:4-7.
A. Kindness is Thoughtful, Generous and Sacrificial, 3:4; 2:11; Eph 1:3-5; Jno 3:16; 2 Cor 8:9.
II. KINDNESS IS AN ACTION OF FAITH, Luke 10:25-37.
A. Being Kind toward Enemies, Matt 5:43-48; Heb 11:31 (Josh 2:12-14).
III. THE ADVANTAGES OF KINDNESS.
A. Kindness Overcomes Evil, Rom 12:17-21 (Matt 7:12).
Our character is the clothing with which we clothe ourselves in Christ (Col
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 11/28/2010
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA