The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jer 17:9)
Over the last few weeks I have been confronted head on by my own sinfulness. Looking into my heart I had not seen the anger there until someone started "pressing my buttons." He very successfully, though not deliberately, brought to the surface a rage I didn't think myself capable of. My own heart had deceitfully hidden this from me and I had thought more highly of myself than I ought.
We can respond in one of two ways when faced with unexpected negative emotions. The easy thing to do is to blame the other person. They shouldn't have such ridiculous opinions, they are uneducated, they are stupid, they are naive, they are arrogant. It's all their fault.
Or we can acknowledge that the fault actually lies with us. Why did I get so angry? Why do this person's opinions trouble me so much? It's because I have a sinful nature. It's because I have not yet permitted the Holy Spirit full access to my soul to allow His fruit to grow there.
If I take this attitude I won't have to wish that person, who so quickly winds me up, would leave the church, I won't want to tell them they're an inadequate Christian and need to repent. Instead, remarkably, I can see them as a "grace maker," someone the Lord has allowed into my life to show me the truth about myself and to knock off some hard, sharp edges.
Of course, there's a place for righteous anger as Jesus demonstrated when He cleared the Temple. But anger that is uncontrolled is a dangerous thing. Even if it doesn't turn to physical violence, the words we say when we're angry can to great harm.
Trying to change on our own won't be enough. Of course there is a need for confession and repentance. But we should also ask God to so fill us with His Holy Spirit that the fruit of self control develops in our life.
Prayer College Assignment
Next time you find yourself justifying behaviour in you which you would find unacceptable in another, ask the Lord what He wants you to learn from the situation. Be grateful for the difficult people in your life because they reveal the truth of what is in your heart.