“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
How do you react when things do not go your way? What do you run to when you’ve had a bad day? When you face hardship, what do you need to make everything all better? For me, it’s a whole host of idols depending on the situation. I nourish my soul with anything from a nap to a few hours on Netflix to a cheeseburger and even time by myself or time with good friends. None of these things are evil in their essence, but when I use them to appease my aching soul, I have allowed them to take the place of God. Anger has a similar effect on our hearts. When our idols are threatened, we do anything we can to defend our right to have things the way we want. If someone impedes on my nap time, I am furious because I NEED to rest and be rejuvenated. If a friend needs to talk while I’m watching TV, they can wait until I’m finished because I NEED to unplug from my busy day. Where do you see yourself desperately trying to defend your idols? Where have you become dependent on someone or something for fulfillment instead of delighting in your Creator? Just this week, my fiancé and I struggled through some of my idolatry as I coveted time with her and valued it more than I valued Jesus. When that time was threatened, I blew up in anger and became very passive aggressive and hurtful making the situation much worse for both of us. Unrighteous anger is a symptom of self-centeredness and my attempts to regain a foothold with my idol only resulted in pain and sadness for both of us. When we recognize our idols and allow God to search our hearts for the root cause of our sin, we find that our problems go much deeper than we originally thought. I thought my problem was not spending enough time with Kirstyn, when in reality my problem was treating our relationship as if it could save me. Where do you see this in your attempts to love your children, spouse, job, stuff, or finances?
As we think about our idolatry, Ted’s acronym UCF can help us make more sense out of our anger. Understanding the root cause is essential to moving forward with our lives. If you have cancer and the doctor gives you cold medicine, he has missed the root cause and you will remain broken and unhealthy. In the same way, if we misdiagnose our anger we are at risk for prolonged sickness that hurts ourselves and others. Channeling our anger against the proper source allows us to love the people around us and hate their sin and our own. When Jesus got angry, He preserved the love and compassion He had for the people around Him while violently opposing their sin. Michael gave me some wonderful regarding a very dear friend who had hurt me deeply a few years ago. He calmly reminded me that she simultaneously still loved Jesus and probably was not proud of her sin that had spilled over into our relationship. When we see our brothers and sisters in Christ through the lens of their brokenness and their sadness over this brokenness, we can channel our anger against their sin and ours instead of just wanting to crush them for what they did. Finding comfort in our forgiveness is the only way this works in our hearts. We have been forgiven of so much in Christ that we can forgive the offenses of our brothers and sisters. When we find contentment in God’s control over our lives, we can release our idols from the clutches of our hearts and cling to Him instead. We can give of our time and money and family without maintaining bitterness because our idols have been threatened. We are free to give of our first fruits because we can trust God to take care of us better than our idols ever could.