So turn from anger. Don’t rage,
and don’t worry—these ways frame the doorway to evil.
Irritation, anger, hot-headedness, fury and even violence are often the common responses in the world to things we don’t like. The evidence of this has been all too obvious in the last few months. It doesn’t matter if people are right, once anger appears as a response it leads to an excessive, sometimes irrational and often harmful response.
Psalm 37 is encouraging us to trust God, to focus on His provision and His justice. We don’t have to worry about what people are doing because we can expect God to arrive and set things right (verse 7 ).
But we do get angry, we do rage and we do worry. If these three things lead us to evil then it makes sense that these three things lead us towards good.
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
If we’re quick to listen, to hear the other person or even the Holy Spirit then our hearts can remain peaceful. Isn’t it that we want to rush and get our side out? We want to make sure people hear what we think, how we feel, what our answer is because we are just so important and our opinion has to be heard. When we rush mistakes are made but taking the time to listen enables us to hear clearly, to absorb what is being said and think of others before ourselves.
Then we will be slow to speak and certainly will be less likely to rage because we have paused and listened, thought. The Holy Spirit will have had the opportunity to make Himself heard, calming our initial reaction and offering His wisdom. We’ll also have had time to reflect on the situation and the people concerned and let the fruit of the Spirit well up in us. We can let love reign in our response.
We might also find ourselves less likely to worry. We won’t need to worry about being heard because we can trust that God has it in hand and He has the answer. We might even remember that He’s promised to care for us, to never leave us, to bear our burdens.
Worry produces anger. We worry about things we can’t control and struggle and strive for ways TO control them. When we can’t do that, we get frustrated and frustration manifests as anger. We lash out at those closest to us for what might seem to be no reason. Or worry causes us to isolate ourselves from people and situations that can encourage us. People who would remind us that God is good and point us in His direction again.
Situations that provoke us are everywhere. No matter how close we stay to God we can’t control the things other people do and say. What we can do is take that moment to stop and listen before we respond. Every second counts. If we practise it will become more natural for us to pause, to let the fruit of a life lived with the Holy Spirit characterise our responses.