Monday, May 1
“When anger rises, think of the consequences.”—Confucius. Nice thought, but my experience is that thinking of the consequences comes too late. When anger arises, logic is put on the back burner. Emotion takes over. Prevention needs to take place before an anger situation arises. Anger has to be anticipated. First of all we need a solid conviction that anger is sin that stems from the sin nature, the core of which is self. Self is conquered by humility. I think that’s why Paul in Philippians 2 picks out humility as the godly trait that should permeate our lives. Anger can’t exist where humility rules; they are mutually exclusive. So if preventing anger depends on being humble, how can I maintain a life of humility? Paul doesn’t lay out a program for this; he just says to follow Christ’s example. But he does give some pointers that pertain to the issue. One (Phil. 2:12) is that we are to continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. This could imply that we do it in our own strength, and that it is in order to gain salvation—neither of which is true. Paul is addressing believers here, so it’s not a salvation issue; it’s a sanctification issue. And neither is it a thing that we can do on our own. The next verse says “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” As usual, Paul puts together our own efforts to live a godly life with the caveat that we can’t do it without God’s enablement. There’s another innuendo, too—that becoming humble is a work in progress. There will be lapses, which will have to be dealt with. The goal (v. 15) is clear: “so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation.” This is a high calling and anger is not an ally.