Pastor’s Corner: “Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak and Slow to Anger”
Psalm 4:4-6 (NLT) – 4 Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Interlude (Selah). 5 Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord. 6 Many people say, “Who will show us better times?” Let your face smile on us, Lord.
What things are the most likely to trigger frustration, anger and/or bitterness in our hearts? I’m not talking about a passing frustration, but the kind of frustration that generates an anger that we cannot control and that at times even borders on the irrational. The events in our lives that produce an anger that controls us most often arise from circumstances that we cannot control.
Anger is one of the most common emotions we experience. It’s part of being human. All of us have lost our tempers and lashed out at God, ourselves or others. Many of us have silently boiled in rage or frustration. We might not want to admit to being angry—we would rather have people see us as calm and controlled. But let’s face it … try as we might to avoid it, we do get angry. The good news is that we don’t have to let it control our lives. The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God – (James 1:20). Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back (Proverbs 29:11).
Think about the thing in your life that you are just certain, if it were to be different, would change everything? What’s the circumstance, relationship, life event far off in the future that you are waiting on to make you happier, more fulfilled, or put you in the place where you are finally able to experience joy? If your job were different, would you be different? If your spouse, your friends, or your kids were different, would you be different? And because these things are out of our control to change, no matter how hard we try, a deep seated resentment, frustration and anger is produced that becomes in control of us.
Have you ever been so angry that you said or did something you later regretted? I have, unfortunately more than I would like to admit. Psalms 4:4 gives us good advice to keep our mouth shut and don’t say anything. Wait until you are alone and talk to God about it. He will give you peace and calmness. Maybe the problem that got you so upset has not gone away but you will have peace. James 1:19 (NLT) – 19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Remember: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV)
In Psalm 4, we find David in distress and frustration. David was surrounded by enemies — real enemies (much different than our circumstances). That is enough to make someone angry, or agitated. He is at the mercy of his circumstances. He is the object of scorn and lies, and from every appearance he is completely in the right, the victim with a righteous complaint. Yet there is nothing he can do about it and even in that place, the temptation to become embittered and to lash out, however justified it may seem, runs the risk of plunging him into sin. But David says no to sin. He didn’t try to take things into his own hands. He trusted the Lord. David determines that his only response to his circumstances is to “offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.” This is far from trying to carve one’s own path in the world. David here models the trust in the Lord that both heals the sin in our own hearts and judges justly and fights on our behalf.
The second temptation that we see in this psalm is the allure of using your circumstances as an excuse. David says in v. 6 of those that are constantly waiting on something to change, “Oh that we might see some good (who will show us better times)! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!” If only God would do this, if only he would change this, life would be so much better. When we find our life becoming so future-oriented that we fail to seize the present moment, we reveal that we misunderstand God’s promises. God’s promise of ultimate joy is not that the weather would always be fair, that people would always treat us well, and that things would go our way. God’s promise is that in spite of our circumstances, He is always near. The promise is His Presence. David concludes: You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound. I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety” (vv. 7-8)—notice again, rest is a defiant act of faith and trust.
Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34. David asks us to take our thoughts of anger to the Lord and to meditate on the Word of GOD. When we allow anger to stay in our heart, we start dwelling on it and allow ourselves to be vessel of the enemy and make plans to confront people. As a result, we may reach conclusions and decisions that we are not supposed to make. Also when we think in anger, we can never be still – many thoughts rush in, making our heart troubled too. STOP for a moment! Give GOD the space. Meditate rather than getting agitated, and be still rather than getting disturbed. Submit to GOD. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.
In His Grace,