Two the most taxing emotions are worry and anger. Worry robs us of our strength and anger blinds us. I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about things that may or may not happen. My mind is excellent at going through all the worst case scenarios. If there’s a possible bad outcome to any situation, my mind will think of it and make me worry. That stress then wears me down to the point that my mind and body get exhausted. It hinders me from accomplishing the things I need to get done.
On the other hand, I’ve been so angry before that I couldn’t sleep. Every time I closed my eyes, I could only picture a bad scenario. That got me upset, got my heart racing and my blood boiling. It made me fantasize about doing evil things to pay them back that were worse than what they did to me. I didn’t want to get even, I wanted to get so far ahead that they never wanted to mess with me again.
These two emotions were given to us by God for a reason, but we can’t let them run wild and free or they will destroy us. Psalm 37:8 says, “Don’t give in to worry or anger; it only leads to trouble” (GNT). Notice how the writer didn’t say, “Don’t feel them.” No. He said, “Don’t give into them.” Don’t let them rule your mind. Left unbridled, they will destroy your well being and later your life. You can’t dwell on them. In both cases, you have to release them.
I know that’s easier said than done, but it is possible. In both situations, the way to release them is to trust God. Do you trust God to do what’s right for you? Then let go of worry and trust His plan. Do you believe that vengeance belongs to the Lord? Then let go of your anger and trust Him to do what’s right in the situation. If you’re struggling with either of these, pray and give the situation to God. When you release it, you will watch the worry and anger go with it.
I was recently scammed out of some money through phishing. I’m well aware of phishing scams and have always been able to spot them, but when this one came in, it was the perfect storm of timing. As soon as I figured it out (20 minutes later), I fought to get my money back. I was able to stop them from using the money, but then I began to beat myself up. That anger towards myself shifted to them after a day. I began to plot my revenge. I started researching to see if I could hire a hacker yo hit them hard. Then I decided that I was going to send them a spam bomb. My mind kept thinking of how I could pay them back until it consumed most of my thoughts. In the middle of my research, I heard the Lord say, “Vengeance is mine. Let it go.” That’s all I needed to hear.
A few weeks earlier, I had watched the documentary “Free Burma Rangers”. It’s about a man who grew up as a missionary and now has started a humanitarian movement in Burma, Iraq, Syria and Kurdistan. The documentary followed he and his family into Mosul, Iraq. He was on the front lines of an Isis controlled area. After freeing a family on the outskirts of the town, they were happy. They all loaded up in a tractor and headed to be with other family members. They got about a 100 yards away and hit a land mine that Isis left as they retreated. This missionary became angry and talked about how he wanted to kill every Isis member over it. Then God spoke those same words to him. The missionary then said, “Vengeance looks a lot like justice, but it comes from a different place. Justice is done from a place of love and vengeance comes from a place of anger.”
Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger, And it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment]” (AMP). It’s ok to be angry, but we can’t let it lead us into sinning (Ephesians 4:26). Anger has the ability to consume us, especially when we were wronged intentionally. What we do with it matters. Seeking revenge and harboring resentment is not of God or from God. Those things slowly put you in a prison of your own doing. It’s time to let them go, and let God give justice for how they wronged you. God wants you free from the prison of anger and resentment so you can be used in the way you were created to be used. I know it’s easier said than done, but start by praying and giving it to God. Then ask Him to set you free from the anger and resentment by helping you to let it go.
Thanks to Steve Halama for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁
I believe that there are several habits we as Christians can adopt in our lives to become the type of believer we truly aspire to be. While Hebrews 11 has compiled a list of heroes of the faith for us, there have been many people who have lived since that time whom we can learn from as well. If I were to ask you to think of a person, past or present, who exemplified a life of faith as a believer, you could probably think of a name quickly. Whether they were written about in the Bible, history, or have just touched your life in some way, they have habits in their life that you and I can adopt into our own lives to become that type of Christian.
One of the hardest habits for us to adopt is the habit of forgiveness. When we’ve been wronged, we feel justified in holding anger and resentment against the one who wronged us. I’ve learned in my own life that anger, resentment and being hurt are all that’s needed to become bitter. That bitterness then becomes a prison that holds your thoughts captive and stops any progress in your life. It has the power to consume you and that kind of bitterness causes you to spread that poison to others.
God wants us to let go of the wrongs that have been done to us because He knows that’s where our freedom lies. You cannot be a productive Christian if you’re holding anger, resentment, or bitterness towards someone else. God’s desire is that we turn the other cheek, not so we can get hurt again, but so we can lead with our un-bruised side. He knows that we will be better witnesses for Him when we don’t lead with our hurts and bruises out front. He knows that we can be healed in time when we first learn the habit of forgiveness.
In Matthew 6, we find the Lord’s Prayer. I’m sure you’ve memorized it at one point in your life. What you may not have memorized are verses 14-15 which come immediately after it. Jesus followed up His prayer with, “If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in Heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father in Heaven will not forgive the wrongs you have done” (GNT). Your forgiveness from God is dependent on your ability to forgive others.
I like how the Amplified Bible describes what forgiving “wrongs” is and looks like. It says, “Their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up your resentment.” All of this is put on you, not the other person or God. Your own forgiveness starts with your ability to let go of what someone else has willfully done to wrong you. The life God has for you will be bright and fresh again once you choose to adopt the habit of forgiveness.
One of the hardest things for us to do is to forgive someone who has wronged us. It’s also one of the most liberating things to do. The Bible is full of examples of people who forgave, people who didn’t and why we should. That doesn’t change the fact that it is difficult to do when it comes down to it. Letting go of a wrong seems unnatural. It seems like if I am wronged, I should hold it over their heads forever because of the pain they inflicted. The problem with that is that it becomes all we think about and we become bitter.
We’ve all prayed “The Lord’s Prayer”. We know the line that says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” We’ve prayed that line in the King James Version all of our lives, but have we really meant it or understood it. The Amplified Version uses these words to enhance the word forgive: left, remitted, let go of the debts and have given up resentment against (our debtors). The last thing Jesus said there was that we were to give up the resentment we hold against those who have trespassed against us.
Immediately after saying amen in the prayer, Jesus started talking about the forgiveness He mentioned in the prayer. He knew that the rest of the prayer was relatively easy to say and live by. He understood that the one part of the prayer that was our responsibility was the hardest to swallow. So He attacked it straight on before anyone could speak. The Message writes it best. Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15, “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.”
He put every bit of that on us. We can’t get forgiveness unless we forgive. We have the option to grant or refuse forgiveness. We just have to understand that when we refuse it, we are also refusing God’s forgiveness for our sins. That’s a bold way to approach the subject of forgiveness and how important it is to God. He used a gentler approach in a parable where a man owed a huge debt. He was thrown in prison for the rest of his life because he couldn’t pay it. He threw himself at the kings mercy and was granted forgiveness. He walked out of the prison and went to a guy who owed him a couple of dollars, and threw him in prison for not paying it.
When the man begged for mercy just like he had done with the King, he refused it. When the King heard that the same man who had been forgiven was treating someone else so poorly, he ordered that he be thrown into prison too. If he couldn’t show the same compassion and forgiveness he had received, he wasn’t worthy of it. Jesus again underscored the importance of us forgiving others and linked it to God forgiving us. We must let go of the resentment we’ve been holding onto in order to not cut ourselves off from God’s forgiveness. When you truly let it go, it will be one of the most liberating experiences of your life.