You can’t experience peace and anger at the same time. The two are polar opposites. The presence of one, eliminates the other. So how can you keep the peace during troubled times?
2 Timothy 3:1-5, Living Bible (TLB)
“You may as well know this too, Timothy, that in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian. For people will love only themselves and their money; they will be proud and boastful, sneering at God, disobedientto their parents, ungrateful to them, and thoroughly bad. They will behardheaded and never give in to others; they will be constant liars andtroublemakers and will think nothing of immorality. They will be rough andcruel, and sneer at those who try to be good. They will betray their friends; they will be hotheaded, puffed up with pride, and prefer good times to worshiping God. They will go to church, yes, but they won’t really believe anything they hear. Don’t be taken in by people like that.”
The Bible says it will be difficult to be a Christian in the last days. Widespread immorality, economic woes, natural disasters and senseless acts of terror set people on edge. Circumstances like these create an ideal atmosphere for offense—fear.
When people are afraid…
- afraid they will lose their job;
- afraid their spouse is cheating;
- afraid they will get sick from the latest flu or virus like Ebola; or
- afraid they will be the victim of the next earthquake, terrorist attack, crime, you name it
…they become easily agitated, quick-tempered, disrespectful and even malicious. Why? Aggression is a natural defense when we feel threatened. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to take our anger out on a virus. We can’t curse out the economy. We can’t slap a tornado. But we can vent our frustration on the people around us. Hence, the offence.
Have you been offended? If you’re alive today, you’ve probably had an opportunity to get offended today. So how should we handle it? Walk in love with the unlovely.
Scenario One: Another Christian offends you.
Step A – Try to resolve it privately, peer-to-peer first. This is the most gracious way and no one else needs to know of the offensive behavior. (TIP—usually the root of offense is fear or a lie. Simply ask if you’ve done anything to offend them and apologize if you have, then listen. Their response often will identify the root of the problem.)
Step B – Next, try to talk through the issue again with at least one other person present who can serve as a witness.
Step C – Finally, if you must continue to associate closely with the person (i.e. family member, serve on the same ministry team, co-worker, etc.), request a meeting with the two of you and the pastor or leadership. Usually the pastor/leadership can provide counsel and resolve the problem. If, the person still refuses to discontinue the offensive behavior, then the bible says to treat them the way you would an unbeliever (See Scenario Two below).
NOTE: In cases of harmful behavior like physical or sexual abuse, criminal actions, etc. start at Step C—get expert counsel immediately and contact the appropriate local authorities.
Matthew 18:15-18, King James Version (KJV)
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
Scenario Two: An unbeliever offends you. It’s natural to want to spew out cutting remarks or give someone the cold shoulder when they offend you. Some people even take it a step further by doing the same insulting behavior back to the person who offended them—we call it pay back.
Step A – God doesn’t want us to pay people back with evil—that’s natural. Instead, we act supernatural by conquering evil with good.
Romans 12:17-2, Living Bible (TLB)
“Never pay back evil for evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honest clear through. Don’t quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone, just as much as possible. Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it. Don’t take the law into your own hands. Instead, feed your enemy if he is hungry. If he is thirsty give him something to drink and you will be ‘heaping coals of fire on his head.’ In other words, he will feel ashamed of himself for what he has done to you. Don’t let evil get the upper hand, but conquer evil by doing good.”
Step B – If someone has hurt you, ask God to show you how you can bless that person. Then go the extra mile, pray for them (Not a pay-back prayer like, “Oh God, please smite them. Hurt them the way they hurt me.) No. Pray sincerely for their well-being and deliverance from sin. Pray they will come to know the Lord.
Matthew 5:44-45, KJV
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Scenario Three: But God, they keep doing it! The fact that people keep sinning is no surprise to God. That’s why Jesus died (paid the price) for our sins on the cross. He forgave us and still forgives us. Jesus instructs us to forgive one another. Not just the first, second or third time. God’s mercy is not like baseball–three strikes and you’re out!
Matthew 18:21-22 Living Bible (TLB)
“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who sins against me? Seven times?” “No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!”
Step A – We are to forgive as long as forgiveness is needed.
Step B – This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set boundariesfor relationships that are harmful. Forgiveness is a gift, but trust is earned.
When we forgive people (no matter what), we eliminate anger and become an extreme peace keeper. Pursue peace–it’s worth the effort.
1 Peter 3:10-12 New King James Version (NKJV)
For “He who would love life and see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”