As you go deeper with God, you will experience more and more of His supernatural power. You will be able to overcome character flaws and bad habits. You will be able to change the way you think and behave. When hardships come, you will have the power to suffer with greater victory and peace. And your life will impart comfort, hope and courage to others.
If your heart is clean and your motives are Christ-centered, you will go deeper with God. Expect to be more conscious of His presence. Increasingly, day after day, you will desire God above everything else this world has to offer.
God’s fountain of life lies in the depths of God. To find it, you must search deeper and deeper, for His depths are as deep as God is. You will never arrive; you can always go still deeper with God. But, the deeper you go, the better the water will be.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Why, then, are so many Christians so totally lifeless? Why are joy and peace so elusive? Let me answer these questions using an analogy found in nature.
In this series, I’ll show you, in a very practical way, how to stop reacting in anger and start responding in meekness to the people and circumstances that irritate you. You will be able to overcome anger as you identify your sin, yield to God and pursue meekness.
Are you set in your ways and highly opinionated? Do you like to do things your way—because that’s the “right way”?
Are you a people pleaser? Do you covet the respect and approval of others?
Do you feel hurt when others don’t acknowledge your accomplishments and praise you? Do you resent criticism?
Do you demand the love and attention of others?
Do you feel inadequate or question God’s willingness to help you?
Is your time more important that anyone else’s? Do you frequently feel like people are imposing on your time?
Does your security lie in your possessions?
Are you a perfectionist? Do you require perfection of others?
Do your problems and needs consume you? Are you unwilling to put other’s needs ahead of your own?
Do you think of yourself as better or more valuable than others?
Do you expect life to be fair?
· In what areas am I refusing to trust God?
· How can I overlook offenses, forgive injuries and return good for evil?
Meekness is trusting God to take care of your life, your desires, your possessions, and your rights. We know God will do these things because Jesus said the meek will inherit the earth, which means they will inherit God’s reign over their circumstances (Matthew 5:5).
FOR FURTHER STUDY
Want to know what meekness looks like? Check out these passages:
Isaiah 42:2-4; 53:7
Matthew 12:19-20; 26:52-53
1 Peter 2:21-23; 3:8-15
We learn meekness from Jesus. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from me,” Jesus tells us, “for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.”
The meekness of Jesus gave Him the power to bear injuries, forgive injuries, and return good for evil. Think of these responses as alternatives to anger. Then apply them to the circumstances in your life.
In Psalm 38:12-15, David tells us that certain people are trying to destroy him. Sound familiar? Has a co-worker ever tried to discredit you or turn other people against you? Then you know how David felt. No doubt he was tempted to strike back, but he chose to behave differently.
“But I, like a deaf man, do not hear,” David wrote. “I am like a dumb man who does not open his mouth…For I hope in Thee, O Lord; Thou wilt answer, O Lord my God.”
He simply ignored every insult and kept his mouth shut. How? By trusting God, by pursuing meekness.
When people offend you, you must yield your right to take offense. You must forgive others so God can forgive you. (Matthew 6:14-15).
Extending forgiveness makes us feel vulnerable, however. After all, there is risk involved. What if I forgive, and my offender perceives that as weakness? What if he or she tries to walk all over me? I don’t want to be anyone’s doormat!
Never mind that fear, listen to David’s testimony concerning God’s protective care: “How great is Thy goodness, which Thou has stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou has wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, before the sons of men! Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man; Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the Lord, for He has made marvelous His loving kindness to me in a besieged city” (Psalm 31:19-21).
Don’t be afraid to forgive. The people you forgive may wound you again, but God will hide you in His presence. You may feel like you’re living in a besieged city, but don’t be dismayed. God’s loving kindness will guard over you.
Return Good for Evil
Peter urges us to be compassionate and humble. “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing,” Peter wrote, “because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8-9, NIV).
When someone insults us, our first inclination is to retaliate. But the Word says we are to seek peace and pursue it (v.11). We are to feed our enemies, pray for them and love them (Romans 12:20-21); Matthew 5:44).
As Jesus hung from the Cross, He didn’t curse the people who put Him there. Instead, He prayed for them, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
He suffered and died a horrible death for the very sinners who had mocked Him and spit on Him. That’s meekness. That’s returning good for evil. And that’s the example we are to follow.
Breaking the anger habit won't be fast or easy. Victory won't happen overnight. But if you truly desire to change, He will show you the roots of your anger and help you to eliminate them one-by-one. And as you yield your rights to Jesus and pursue meekness, He will reward you with peace and joy. You will be happier and so will those around you.
In the last series I wrote about my personal battle with anger. On a positive note, I pointed out that the passion which fuels anger can be harnessed for good as demonstrated in the lives of Christ’s disciples. But, uncontrolled, selfish anger is another matter. You must put it aside. Such a change in behavior requires you to stop reacting in anger and start responding in meekness to the people and circumstances that irritate you.
In this series, I’ll show you how to do that in a very practical way. You will be able to overcome anger as you identify your sin, yield to God and pursue meekness.
Identify Your Sin
- What does God say about selfish anger?
- Will I obey God in this area?
Anger nearly always takes a victim. Every time your temper flares, someone gets burned. Your child. Your spouse. Your employee. Yourself.
And that’s why Jesus compared anger to murder, “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22).
These are hard words to accept. But the message is clear: When you wound someone out of anger, you are actually killing that person on the inside. Note the progression. The punishment grows increasingly harsh as basic anger evolves into scornful pride, spite, and finally, hatred.
That’s the hidden cost of anger. It evolves. It festers. And it spins a web around your heart (Ecclesiastes 7:9). Because unloading frustration feels so good to the flesh, it masquerades as your friend, but in reality, anger is your worst enemy.
“Cease from anger and forsake wrath,” wrote the psalmist. Why? Because “it leads only to evildoing” (Psalms 37:8). Once you give anger an open door to your heart, it will muscle its way into every room of the house and cause trouble in every area of your life! It will pollute your thinking and every aspect of your character and personality. “Watch over your heart with all diligence,” the Word says, “for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Anger is lethal and you must recognize it as such. No matter how big or how little your anger problem is, you must overcome it before it overcomes you.
Obedience in this area is not an option, but a command from God. Colossians 3:8 says, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech from your mouth.”
John 14:15 says that if we truly love Jesus, we must keep His commandments. Uncontrolled, self-centered anger is a sin. Therefore, if you love Jesus, you must put anger aside. If you don’t, your love for Jesus isn’t love at all.
And how does a believer put anger aside? Start by identifying your sin.
- Stop denying or rationalizing and justifying your anger—only then can you hear what God is saying to you about anger
- Study what the Bible says about anger—its cost and its curses
Look closely at the verses that seem to jump off the page. Meditate on them in your prayer time. Write them on index cards and post them around the house to remind you of what God says about anger.
- Saturate yourself with the Word of God until the scales fall off your eyes and the danger and ugliness of your behavior is clearly visible to you
You will hate what you see. The truth will disgust you, if not horrify you. But only then will you be motivated to deal with your anger.
Come back next week to read more from this classic teaching series