Daily Devotions

Anger: Blessing or Curse?

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"Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables." (John 2:15)

 

Jesus had a temper. Jesus could get angry. Yet, Jesus is without sin. This means it is possible to be angry without sinning. The reason many of us have trouble hearing about Jesus being angry is because we human beings cannot show righteous indignation without it going to an inappropriate place.

 

The key is to respond with an appropriate response. If three strong men attack a weaker person in a subway, a polite "excuse me," is probably not enough to protect the vulnerable person. Polite requests of a brutal dictator will not change widespread abuses. But a whip of cords, and turning over tables is not appropriate when a child spills their "SpaghettiOs."

 

At a deeper level, what makes an angry response appropriate or inappropriate is also determined by motivation. If Jesus was angry because he felt slighted by the money changers and wanted to get even, it would probably be inappropriate. If the money changers were destroying lives, a few overturned tables would be a small price.

 

Today, pray for God to give you control over your emotions. Pray for God to give you control over your thoughts and feelings. Emotions can be a blessing or a curse. Get in touch with your feelings. Do not be scared to feel, but try to take a step away from your emotions and evaluate them at a little distance. Are they beneficial in this moment, or are they hindering you? Ask God to give you the self-control to make a positive difference in each situation. The more you practice control, the better you will be at mastering your emotions, rather than being mastered by them.

It's In the Little Things  

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"When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine.'” (John 2:3)

 

Jesus' first miracle was changing water into wine at a wedding - not healing a temple full of people, or performing a resurrection in front of a huge audience. No, Jesus does something as mundane as addressing a small "crisis" at a local wedding ceremony. But it wasn't a small "crisis" to the bride and groom and their families. To run out of wine at a wedding was considered a serious social faux pas. Jesus was concerned about the activities of this world and the people involved. The mundane is meaningful.

 

One of the classes I took while working on my doctorate included a Palestinian Christian pastor from Haifa, Israel. The class was on "pastoral care." We were talking about different and even strange ways we have performed pastoral care. I gave the example of performing a funeral for an elderly woman's dog, and how it guided her through her despair. Out of nowhere, the Palestinian pastor erupted in anger. "How could I trivialize the Christian faith, wasting time when there were real life and death, justice issues at work in our world?"

 

By the end of the week of study, we spent some time reviewing our learning. The pastor who had previously been angered by my story said he learned that while there are serious justice issues that must be addressed, it remains important to address the individual and meet him or her in their personal struggle. He concluded by thanking me for reminding him of his need to not forget the individual amidst societal struggles.

 

Today, think about the needs of an individual in your midst. You may never be placed in a position to make a huge societal change, but you do have the ability to influence the lives around you. Don't just focus on the big picture, but take the time to respond to the needs of those you can listen to and touch. Just because it doesn't feel like you are making a life-transforming difference in a simple response, doesn't mean God can't take your simple act of care and turn it into something blessed. Getting extra wine for a wedding probably didn't seem like a huge deal to those present in Cana that day, but we are still praising the action to this day. Go, and make a difference in ways great and small.

 

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