Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I don't...but I want to...

Last night I had an interesting conversation.  One of my friends recently lost the A/C in their car.  Since they know that I have been without A/C in my car for some time now, they complained to me about how much it sucks.  Cause to be honest, it does.

           But as we were talking, at one point they go, “How does it not just make you so angry to drive around when it is so hot!?  How are you not just angry all the time?”
Fair question especially considering the record high temperatures and the heat index that is averaging about 300 thousand degrees with a humidity percentage of about a million.

But, how does that not just make you so angry to deal with day in and day out?

For people who know, you may just be thinking, well it’s Matthew…that’s why he doesn’t get mad…have you seen him really get mad?

Well, that may be true, but it hasn’t always been that way.  It took me a while to learn this great lesson on how to do with certain things.  And I will tell you…in a minute.

First, I wanted to start with some information from an article published on Health.com.  The article is called 10 Things You Should Never Do When You’re Angry. 
1.       Sleep
2.       Drive
3.       Vent
4.       Eat
5.       Continue arguing
6.       Post to Facebook
7.       Write emails
8.       Drink alcohol
9.       Ignore your blood pressure
10.   Ruminate

Well, that list cancels out a lot of what I feel we as humans naturally do when we are angry.  I also have heard that when some people are mad, they like to “subtweet” about them…similar to the posting to Facebook thing...I’d say this is something you should probably avoid.

But anyway, let’s try something…

You are driving home from school or work, or from a friend’s house… on the way home, you unexpectedly get a flat tire.  It’s rainy outside so you call AAA so that they can come change your tire.  Once they get there you briefly have to get out to show them your card and that it is actually you.  While you are getting back in the car, you accidentally drop your phone…into a puddle.  You get back into the car and you are furious.  The world hates you.  This now leads you to also be rude to the guy who is currently changing your tire…in the rain.  Because you are mean to him, he is now a little upset and therefore is a little short with the next customer that he sees.  So on and so forth…

It’s kind of like those old Coke commercials about sharing a smile or that State Farm commercial about spreading happiness…except a sadder more depressing one that leaves you feeling not very great about things. 

Now, think about any situation you have ever been in… just in the past week, what have you had to do or what problems have you dealt with?

There is always one common factor in every single situation you face…


The only thing you truly are in control of is how you respond to a situation. 

One thing I always think of when I think of this example comes from a sermon by Pastor Johnny Ray Youngblood.

You may have thought the made up story above sounds pretty bad, but now imagine this…

You have been barely eaten, had a drink of water, or slept in nearly 24 hours.  You have just spent the past few hours being beaten, whipped, mocked, and stripped naked.  After all of that you are forced to carry a huge, heavy wooden cross for miles.  You are then nailed to the cross and lifted up.  People continue to yell and mock you as you simply hang there and wait to die. 

Yes, this is the story of the crucifixion of Jesus.  

While he is there on the cross, he speaks seven times.  The very first thing Jesus says is, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

In spite of everything Jesus has been through, he responds with love.  Father….forgive them.  He asks God to forgive the people who are in the middle of murdering him…in the face of death, he chose love.

Right after this, Jesus speaks again…

Between two criminals, one of them is mocking Jesus, challenging him to free them.  While the other one simply asks to be remembered.  A very simple request, especially given the situation.  Just remember me.

After all of this, Jesus looks at the criminal and says, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”


I mean, can you even imagine! 

This reminds me of one of those cliché sayings we have all heard…

Walk the walk, don’t talk the talk.

It is easy to only talk the talk.  Talking is so easy to do.  When we are upset or angry, we can easily put on a fake smile and say, “Oh its ok!”  “No worries!”  “Oh, I forgive you, it’s all good!”

But after saying that we go bad mouth them to our friends, or continue to let it fester and grow.  We can follow Jesus’ example when it comes to the first thing he says on the cross.  We can say it.

The problem is the walking.  Immediately after asking God to forgive the people…he actually forgives someone!  His first action is to live out what he asked for just a minute ago.

Recently, I was reflecting on another “sermon” I had heard.  It was on piety.  What is piety reality?  It is difficult to really define.

For this sermon giver, it was simply defined as a labor of love.  He told a story about how much his mother had sacrificed to be there and take care of his little brother.  In his eyes, the only motivation she had to do all of this work was because she loved him.  To him, that is piety.  When we live piously, everything we do is out of love for Christ. 

This can’t be a part-time thing, it is an all the time thing.  In the book of Joshua, he makes the Israelites promise that they will fully give themselves to God at all times.  It is not a half-hearted decision; it is not when it is convenient thing. 

It hasn’t changed.  When we allow things in our lives to affect our outlook and our attitudes, we are not living out our lives in love.  We are not being pious.  We are not being true to ourselves.  We are covering up that amazing person that God created in his own image.

We may be able to put on a mask and speak the words of forgiveness… but unless we are able to follow that up by truly forgiving, then it is pointless.  It is fake, “for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” (James 1:20)

By no means would I say I am walking the walking when it comes to this…but I want to.  And I think that is a good place to start.

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