Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cancel the Guilt Trip

The story is told of a man driving past an insane asylum.  As he did, he got a flat tire.  As he pulled over and started to work on the tire one of the patients sat by the fence watching him.  The man took out his jack, tire iron, etc.  He began to loosen the lug nuts and remove them.  He removed the tire and accidentally kicked the lug nuts and they fell into the sewer drain.  He was at a loss for words.  Without the lug nuts he couldn’t put on the spare.  The man behind the fence said, “Mister, why don’t you use one lug nut off each wheel and it will be enough to get you to a service station.”  The driver said, “That’s a great idea. Thanks! By the way, what are you doing in a place like this?”  To which the man replied, “I’m crazy, but I’m not stupid!”
One thing that will drive us crazy is guilt.  Guilt is an emotion that hurts and hampers many.  Guilt is that feeling of sorrow and regret over wrong behavior.  In the movie “The Mission” Robert De Niro plays a man who kills his brother in a jealous rage.  He takes asylum in America at a mission.  Because of what he has done he is instructed to carry a heavy pack to do his penance.  He feels terrible yet he doesn’t know what to do with his sin and the shame that came with it.

At times we all feel that way.  Some are tethered about by some transgression.  Some are dealing with guilt over things done years ago.  Guilt hurts us in so many ways.  It damages our relationships.  We can’t get close to others because we feel bad about the past.  Guilt also keeps us stuck in the past.  We play our sins over and over again in our minds.  Someone has said,” Guilt cannot change the past and worry cannot change the future but it sure will make you miserable today”.

The worst trip you will ever take is the guilt trip.  God is a God of forgiveness.  In the book of Isaiah He says, “Come now, let us reason together.  Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”.

That scripture reminds us that God is willing to forgive us if we ask him.  And once we have we need to forgive ourselves.  It has been said to err is human but to forgive is divine.  Oh!  How true!

See ya Sunday!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tame That Temper

It is no wonder that some believe anger is burning hotter in modern society than ever before.  When you consider some of the phrases which are now common place – “Domestic violence”, “Workplace Violence”, “Road Rage” “Drive-by-shooting”, among others – it seems we live in a world seething with anger.  Consider also that experts state that sixty percent of homicides investigated are committed by one family member who is angry with another family member.  And most every night the news is brimming with reports of civil unrest and mass demonstrations from all corners of the globe which often depict angry mobs rioting in the streets.  Anger that is both ungodly and unhealthy appears to permeate every level of every culture.  As a radio preacher of yesteryear once stated “No form of vice, nor worldliness, nor greed of gold, nor drunkenness itself does more to un-christianize a society than an evil temper”, and we certainly seem to be witnessing this on a global scale.  

On a more personal level, in the years God has given me the privilege to pastor I have often seen the heartbreaking after-effects left in the wake of a violent temper.  The especially tragic aspect is oft times anger of this nature is founded upon misinformation or miscommunication, and destroys what were once loving relationships.  Have you ever been angry with someone for so long that you really can’t remember why?  If we are angry with someone and cannot rationally and reasonably identify the root cause of this, that anger is wrong.  Jesus affirmed this in His sermon on the mount when He declared “Whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of judgment.”  At other times our anger can be misguided.  It is one thing to be angry when an injustice has been perpetrated; it is another thing altogether if our intention is to seek vengeance rather than justice.  That type of anger is clearly wrong from a Biblical perspective.

The great C.H. Spurgeon said,” I have no more right as a Christian to allow a bad temper in me than I have to allow the devil in me.” He was exactly right.  The Bible makes it clear that we are never to let the sun go down on our wrath.  Husbands and wives ought not to go to bed angry with one another.  As the comedienne Phyllis Diller once quipped “Never go to bed mad.  Stay up and fight!”
When anger takes root in the heart and becomes part and parcel of a person’s natural disposition, it will produce toxic results.  Unchecked, anger of this sort can lead to a host of problems, and can have detrimental effects on every level of an individual’s life – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  As Christians, we need to be ever vigilant from permitting anger a place in our hearts if we are intent on living as Christ’s ambassadors, for as the Apostle James warns:
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God”.

See ya Sunday!