"In your anger, do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. " Psalm 4:4
You may have heard that verse quoted a thousand times. You probably know that anger in and of itself is not sin; that it's what you do with that anger that is considered sin. And that is, indeed, what that verse implies.
I find something interesting, though. God goes on to tell us to search our hearts and be silent. Hmmm. Could He be saying that in our anger, the thing that is most likely to lead us into sin is our mouth?
For me, this is very true. When I'm angry, the first thing I do is lash out. I won't get into how many times I've said things that have hurt my husband and kids - that's for another day. But my family members aren't the only ones I've hurt in my anger. Just ask the wall. It has been on the receiving end of my verbal wrath on many occasions. Granted, it may seem like yelling at the wall won't hurt anyone, but sometimes I'll admit that I get myself pretty riled up. And because I'm so focused on venting my anger, it's pretty hard to hear the Holy Spirit, whose still small voice can't compare to my loud and boisterous one (which may surprise those who know me because I'm typically a quiet person. But, as the wall can attest, that voice can get carry pretty far when I'm provoked. )
So the fact is even when nobody else is in the room with me, I am hurting someone - I'm hurting God.
Not that He can't handle it. I mean, God has heard His share of angry words. But somehow, I don't think He sits back and grins while I have it out with Him. No more than I smile at my kids when they raise their voices at me.
More likely, God shakes His head, checks His watch, and wonders when I'm going to shut up long enough for Him to get a word in, edgewise. And I'm ashamed to admit, the complaining could go on for days if exhaustion wasn't a factor. The truth is I soon wear myself out. And then, in tears of frustration, I usually head for the fridge. Once there, I sin some more by gorging on ice cream or potato chips or whatever else will temporarily satisfy my anger and frustration.
Now, if I just shut up and search my heart, as God recommends in Psalm 4, I'll not only lose that extra weight, but I'll be more quickly to experience the joy and peace God wants me to have.
On the other hand, just because God is telling us to be quiet, it doesn't mean we're supposed to stuff our anger. Ignoring the issue that prompted our anger only leads to bitterness and resentment. But when we're silent and truly let God speak to our hearts, we're more able to communicate our anger in a way that brings healing to our hearts and brings us closer to Him instead of sending us straight to the fridge.
So the next time I'm tempted to lash out at the wall, I'll head to my bed and stare up at the ceiling, instead. But rather than vent all of my frustrations, I'll search my heart and be silent. God will be pleased and I'll be less stressed. And who knows? Soon, by heading to my bedroom instead of the fridge, I may even be ten pounds lighter.
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