Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Anger thrown out of our mouths is never thrown out of our hearts

Vitriol, bitterness, rancor, wrath, incendiary language, pejorative language, fierce and disdainful language, harsh, short fuses, in short—angry voices and tones seems to be norm in the political arena at this moment in our history. There is more heat than light and more polarization than unity. Our nation is divided in a sea of mistrust and miscommunication. Yes there are real and qualitative differences between the so-called left and the so-called right.

Where I live, in the mid-west outside of Chicago there is what I call “the corridor of dueling billboards.” One talk radio station on the “right” has a billboard that proudly declares, “Liberals Hate Us” and then the call letters of its radio station. Just a few miles up the road, is another billboard. This declares with equal pride and a bit of humor, “Liberals Love Us.” Neither station purports to be a Christian station, but both have staked out their territory on the political landscape.

One day on the two hour long trip to pick up my daughter from college, I decided to listen to one talk radio station on “each side of the aisle” on each leg of the trip. Wow! What an education. What became clear listening to both stations was that neither one was listening, truly listening to the other. They each had their straw men concerning the other’s positions and were more than willing to pound away with “shock and awe” type language to impress their already converted audiences. Rancor, condemnation, harsh and judgmental bitterness were the rule of the day in most of what I heard from both stations.

But anger and bitterness rarely give birth to wisdom. The angry politician, like the angry neighbor is neither pleasant nor wise. And it is to that reality that Solomon speaks in chapter 15 of Proverbs.

1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

2 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable
But the mouth ofthe fool spouts folly.

18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

There is so much crud in our lives, so many things that others do around us and to us and that we do to ourselves that crud and sludge seem to build up and our natural but non-Christlike response is to lash out in anger at any who cross our paths at the inopportune moment.

But anger thrown out of our mouths is never thrown out of our hearts. It can only be irradicated from our hearts by a humble recognition of our own need for forgiveness, regardless of another's need to go through the same process. We have to deal with us first.

Only then will we create the atmosphere that will help the "other." Paul put it this way: "Do not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good." (cf. Romans 12:17-21).

Let's pray for one another in the body of Christ, that every body of believers in our area would be marked by our joy rather than our bitterness, marked by our forgiveness rather than our reluctance to forgive, marked by our love rather than our anger.

Then people will know that God is among us. Then our marriages will be healed and our children will be blessed and our neighbors will ask us the questions that ought to be our hearts desire, "What is the secret to your calm in the midst of the storms? Who is this Christ you serve?"


HALFMOM said...

Great post - although, isn't it amazing with within the same chapter, Paul says, "inasmuch as it is possible". It takes so much soul searching to get to the point, doesn't it, when you know that you, personally, have done everything possible. I find this to be the hardest part - knowing what is my part.

cr said...

I used to work as a bank teller years ago and I remember the hard hearts of people who would come to my lobby window to get their transaction done. I always welcomed them while looking into their eyes with a smile and a "How's your day so far?" I wanted them to feel welcomed and acknowledged and not just because I'm working on their deposit or withdrawal but seeing and hearing a friendly face/voice perks up their day ... and they remember.

Maybe next time they go to the bank to make a transaction and go to my window, there will also be a little conversation that ends with them telling me to have a good day and me replying "Lord bless you."

Y'no, Sometimes for some, all it takes is a little bit. We as Christians have so much to offer and sometimes all we need to give is that "little bit" for them to see what Christ is all about, what He can give them. In a hard situation, a little bit of kindness mixed with a smile goes a long way.

Mary Ellen said...

Can you post the words to the reading we all read together on Easter regarding each book of the Bible?

Grant said...

Great thoughts, though I'm a little late to comment.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were a radio station that was truly in the middle of the road and could facilitate a dialogue on the issues? Unfortunately, I guess that wouldn't get any serious ratings, but I'd listen.

Until then, we can have our opinions, but as you said, we should be forgiving and loving to others with opposite opinions.

Easier said than done, but definitely worth pursuing.

ChosenRebel said...

Thanks for the comment Grant. If Christians and people in general just listened more, life would be much more peaceful.