I’ve been musing over some Bible verses lately. Although some are almost humorous, all are essentially convicting. These verses address the question ‘What am I like to be around?’ Unless you are stranded on a deserted island, you likely interact with others on a daily basis. You may or may not live with someone, but you come into contact with people at work, at the store, on the road, at church, and/or at school every day. Let’s look at what the book of Proverbs says.
Proverbs 13:15 – A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame. When something angers me, I seethe and stew it over in my mind. As I mull it over, I dwell on the injustice of the matter. How dare they! I nurture my victim status in my mind. I formulate what I should say (or have said) to set the other person straight. Modern therapists would tell you not to hold it in. Venting your anger is much healthier. I can tell you that once I let my anger emerge from my mouth, I initially feel good, but in the end hurting someone else doesn’t solve the problem and often I live to regret my words. Time may heal the relationship, but you can never retrieve the words you release.
Proverbs 24:29 -Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work. The overriding thought in my mind after I have been wronged in some way is to make the person responsible pay. Although God is the ultimate judge of all actions, I don’t want to wait for Him to enact justice. What if my perpetrator gets away with it? So, I plot revenge. Is there any doubt that my mind is a sin factory, even if I don’t carry out my vengeance?
Proverbs 15:18 – A wrathful man stirreth up strife; but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife. There are days when I wake up angry. Instead of looking at the world with forgiving eyes, I create situations to be angry about. I had one of these days a few days ago. Everything I saw made me mad. Even something neutral, like someone sneezing, could make me bristle. Sometimes I get a moment of pause and just shake my head at what I see in myself.
I have found that vacations and even shorter get-aways can be particularly vulnerable times for me. I love vacations. You would think that I would be so happy to be able to let go of regular responsibilities that I would be a pleasant person to be around. Not so. I could blame lack of sleep or close quarters, but that would be dodging my responsibility to be in control of my actions. The following verses paint a picture that I should make sure I’m not modeling for…
Proverbs 15:17 – Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.
Proverbs 21:9 – It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.
Proverbs 21:19 – It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.
Riches don’t buy peace. It may look to others like you have it all, but a lot can happen behind mahogany doors!
I have a lot to learn about controlling my response to others. Reading my Bible is a key. There are so many godly people recorded who have patiently endured, even when they may have seemed to have every right to lash out at their situation. The Lord Jesus was the ultimate example.
1 Peter 2:21b-23 – Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.
The above verses silence every “but…” response, as soon as it arises in my throat. I believe Jesus’ entire earthly life had situations that we would have said gave Him the right to strike back. Yet, He didn’t respond in kind. He continually showed love in return for ridicule and downright hatred. This makes it hard to justify my angry attitude in response to much lesser injustices.
I’ll leave you with a poem that certainly is convicting for me:
The Greatest Test
Help me to walk so close to Thee
That those who know me best can see
I live as godly as I pray
And Christ is real from day to day.
I see some once a day, or year,
To them I blameless might appear;
‘Tis easy to be kind and sweet
To people whom we seldom meet,
But in my home are those who see
Too many times the worst of me.
My hymns of praise were best unsung
If He does not control my tongue.
When I am vexed and sorely tried
And my impatience cannot hide,
May no one stumble over me
Because Thy love they failed to see.
But give me, Lord, through calm and strife
A gracious and unselfish life:
Help me with those who know me best
For Jesus sake, to stand the test.
by Barbara C. Ryberg