Here’s a question for you…Are you touchy, irritable, quick-tempered, quick to take offense? Are you known for flying off the handle?
On my “good” days, maybe not so much. But, I’d say I find myself being most of those more often than I’d like to admit. You, too?
According to the Apostle Paul, these are things that love is not:
“quick tempered” (CEV),
“quick to take offense” (NEB),
“easily angered” (NIV),
And love “doesn’t fly off the handle” (MSG).
The first mention of anger in the Bible is in the story of Cain and Abel. You’ve heard of them, right? Cain felt rejected when God accepted Abel and his gift, but he didn’t accept his. Cain got angry, so angry in fact that he killed his brother! Remember the sons of Jacob who felt rejected by their father? They saw how he pampered their brother and neglected them. This made the brothers angry enough to sell their brother into slavery (Genesis 37:4). Let’s not forget how Saul felt rejected by his people. They chose little, “nobody” David over the appointed King himself. How’d that go? Saul was ticked off and angry (1 Samuel 18:7-8 NASB).
Anger. You’ll read about it over 400 times in the Bible and more often than not it goes hand in hand with rejection. You get hurt. Because you get hurt you get hot headed, a harsh tone emerges, a door slamming party begins, and sometimes heads roll (figuratively speaking… hopefully). Anger becomes our defense mechanism. It’s something we feel we can’t shake. We almost become rage addicts.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. What if we step back and look at our situation that makes us feel angry? The one that has left us feeling rejected. What if we really, really, took to heart that God does the opposite of reject us. He accepts us…like not just tolerates, but accepts us? Doesn’t this sound like a Christian cliché? But, its truth. Some days I’d like to tattoo that on my forehead because I can’t seem to escape that heart-wrenching, deep feeling of rejection. And I have to remind myself that, “He (God) will rejoice over you (me?) with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV).
We may have a sibling that’s the” favorite” (insert eye roll), someone else may have the title we want, or we may feel that what we do is never enough or that we’re not good enough. We’re going to feel the sting of rejection. We can’t control that. It’s gonna happen. We can control how we react and if we let anger win.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love…” (Ephesians 4:2)