Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Day Eight: Release

The WORD of the Day:

"Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression...You do not retain anger forever, because You delight in steadfast love. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our iniquities underfoot; You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." 
--Micah 7:18-20

Let Me Give You a Lift:

Micah, is often referred to by Biblical scholars as the prophet of authentic worship and service to God (in fact, Micah's name means "Who is like Yahweh?").  His prophecies occurred during a time in Jewish history where the nation of Israel was at odds with God and facing His wrath.  The book of Micah includes prophecies about the calamity that will befall the people if they continue in rebellion, but in every instance there is also a parallel message that if Israel will repent and return to God he will wipe the slate clean.  The message is: whatever evil you have done, turn away from it, God will cast it away, and you can walk with him. 

Notice in the passage above, God is angry. Yes, God gets angry.  There is much talk today about the ills of anger (which are many), but I think it is important to note that anger is not itself wrong.  Other things can make anger wrong, but the emotion on its own is neither wrong nor sinful. Like every other emotion, anger presents us with a choice: what we do with it matters.

There are a lot of kinds of anger--bitterness, begrudgery, passive aggressiveness, volatility...you get the idea--and most of us experience the spectrum at some point in our lives.  But I think, in terms of the everyday, we all have a kind of anger we favor. Some of us are short-tempered; some of us are bitter; some of us are a quiet kind of angry that looks happy on the surface but inside is about to explode.  And we are always inclined to rationalize our own kind of anger--it's not as bad as the others, right? To quote my old friend C.S. Lewis:
I feel a strong desire to tell you-and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me-which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs-pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.
I think, in general, the only "straight through" for anger is God's way: release it.  In the passage above Micah tells us the reason that God does not hold on to anger: because retaining anger is at odds with steadfast love.  How can we consistently love people if we are incapable of letting go of anger? We can't. Everyone makes mistakes. It is a mathematical certainty that even our dearest friends and relatives will let us down on occasion because they are human.  The only way to keep loving is by releasing the anger, resentment, and grudges that result from those slights.  

Easier said than done, right? Of course, but remember that you do not have to release your anger on your own. You can ask for help--from God, from friends, from professionals if you need it.  Remember your strength, and remember your arsenal.  Above all, remember that God calls us to let go of anger because, at the end of the day, holding on to it really only hurts us.

"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger." --Ephesians 4:26

Give it a Listen:

Today's song is by Phil Stacey, and it's called “Some Kind of Love.”  The title explains it pretty well. The song is basically Phil's way of saying 'wow, you love me even now?' It is just kind of a light, feel-good song about the bigness of God's love. Enjoy!

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