Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fighting Right

By Brenda Black

I'm mad and I'm not taking it anymore! I confess to being one who has ranted over my share of injustices. Often, to vent is to avoid exploding, but frankly, anger is probably the most difficult and dangerous emotion of the human condition. If not handled correctly, it can get ugly.

Contrast two teachings from wise Solomon and see for yourself which is the preferred path. “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” (Proverbs 29:11) Now look at what Christ taught: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:5-9)

So how does one move from “I'm not taking it anymore” to being a “blessed peacemaker”? It's a challenging journey with just one guaranteed route for success. Only a heart filled with the love of Christ and the desire to please God has hope of getting beyond the heat of any moment. It's natural to fuss and fume, stomp and sputter, cuss and criticize. Not pretty, mind you, but a fleshly condition of the human heart fully fueled by a sin situation. It's supernatural, however, to submit to the authority of God and honor Him when we'd rather just let 'em have it!

“By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you – I, Paul, who am 'timid' when face to face with you, but 'bold' when away...For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:1, 3-4)

I've met some people with strong opinions. I've known some with bellowing voices. I've heard some intense arguments for and against. But what we're talking about here has nothing to do with human strength or persistence, and everything to do with unseen enemy forces at work, twisting and manipulating the hearts and minds of men. Satan loves a knock-down-drag-out discourse. If given license, he'll dig around inside your head and keep you brewing and stewing until you boil over in rage onto the handiest victim. That's how he works. We're left embarrassed and humiliated in most instances because we lost our cool and let him win.

“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult...Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Pro. 12:15-16, 18)

I have spoken foolishly and I have rendered wise counsel. I can assure you, the latter is far easier to live with and so much less of a mess to clean up afterwards. One significant caution to those of you desiring such discipline. It takes every ounce of strength and measure of godly control to rein in rage and deliver peace. It is demanding physically and mentally and emotionally. Giving up the fleshly urge to unload is power under control. That's what meekness really means! Biting your tongue, curbing your anger, speaking positively instead of negatively takes courage and honor. But if you think keeping your cool is enough to gentle the anger giant, think again. The most important step is not just to manage the mouth or still the mind. The most critical element for dealing with rage is to answer it with grace.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6) That's the way to fight right.

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