Tag Archives: anger

Vengeance is God’s Alone!

My cat is pretty funny … and vindictive! She insists on having the last ‘word.’ If she has just been scolded, she’ll likely hide behind a corner and lash out as the discipliner walks by. Or she may whelp a disapproving “meeooowwwuuuuuhhhh.” I’m not sure I want to know what she’s saying at that moment! Anyway, she reminds me that we’re often aggressive toward other people—even inside the church.

People who should know better gossip against others and retaliate in litigation (think about the Corinthians I wrote about last week!). They often throw hurtful speech or punches despite the order to be kind, patient, and loving. Vengeance flies even though we’re commanded to turn the other cheek to give reconciliation a chance and be quicker to listen than speak.

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:39)

These are some active ways we can be aggressive to God’s creation. There are others too.

My cat is aggressive in her retaliation. But sometimes, she’s passive in her attacks, withdrawing her affection or displaying ‘attitude’ in non-verbal or covert unkindness. We often do the same to each other. There’s the gossiper who will whisper unpleasantries or the ugly truth disguised in “Christian love.” I’ve heard these things spoken aloud in prayers to avoid the accusations of gossip. Some people, like my cat, will withhold their affections or stop helping in passive retaliation. And there’s the congregant who will selectively clap for one worship music artist while refraining when the person they dislike offers their gift. Aggressions like those I’ve mentioned are ungodly and hurtful, whether active or passive. So, who does have the right to be the aggressor?

Only God has the authority to issue vengeance, retribution, or judgment:

“For we know Him who said, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.’ And again, ‘THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.’” (Hebrews 10:30)

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31)

Whether victim or aggressor, some of you may be frustrated at what I’ve written. So, join me next week to explore healthy conflict resolution and dealing with anger.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

The Incredibly Destructive Force of Negative Thought and Speech

Like most people, I’ve experienced the destructive nature of negativity from a distance and engaged in negative chit-chat from time to time. However, I’d never fully witnessed its destructive effects on a lingering personal and painful basis until very recently when I became the victim of collateral damage. The destruction came, in this case, from emotional atomic bombs dropped by those significant to me, leaving a swath of destruction and damaged relationships in their paths. My prayer is that this brief blog will help the healing process while relieving a little frustration and (most importantly!) helping others cope or change their behavior if necessary.

Allowing ourselves to get sucked into negative slander and back-stabbing conversation can feel good for a moment while it creates an air of emotional bonding over common foes or hatreds; however, there’s nothing helpful and everything hurtful about the practice that begins with a negative thought. Here are some sobering tidbits about the effects of negative thought and speech:

  • Fact: Cancer and this type of thinking and behavior are linked, as are physical ailments and crippling illnesses.
  • Fact: Emotional and mental fallout from this self-generated thinking and behavior include anger, depression, paranoia, and unhappiness at the very least.
  • Fact: There’s probably no quicker way to destroy personal and family relationships than to react out of anger with hateful or slanderous speech after working oneself into a frenzy about things that are likely to be untrue or exaggerated. The tongue is indeed a destructive weapon! “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!
    And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.“-James 3:5-6.
  • Fact: Negative speech and thought are likely symptoms of deeper emotional or spiritual issues. Jesus, after all, made this related comment: “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and these defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” –Matthew 5:18-19.
  • Fact: Those aligned with God don’t practice negative, destructive speech. The alternative should be clear.
    • Slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. —Romans 1:30-32.
    • But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. —Colossians 3:8.

Regarding Confrontation. However, this isn’t to be confused with healthy, unassuming confrontation whereby issues and behavior can be addressed and resolved; forgiveness and healing are often the positive side-effects.

Where do we go from here? If you recognize these behaviors in yourself, then stop!! Begin substituting negative thoughts with positive ones, and getting clarification instead of making assumptions and harboring anger. Don’t engage in negative conversation. And, dwell on good and positive activities. On the other hand, if you already do those things and are, therefore, not a negative and slandering individual: Keep on keepin’ on!

Blessings,

Ron Braley