“A Tinkling Cymbal” ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 GNV ) by Carley Evans


Hi-hat cymbals

Love is the greater gift, greater and of considerably more value than speaking in tongues or faith that moves mountains or prophecy that warns of disaster or knowledge that reveals “all secrets and all knowledge.” Without love, Paul claims we are the same as “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” Our actions, though they be good deeds – even deeds of the martyr, are of no profit to us if we have no love. He warns:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and Angels, and have not love, I am as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I had the gift of prophecy, and knew all secrets and all knowledge, yea, if I had all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and had not love, I were nothing. And though I feed the poor with all my goods, and though I give my body, that I be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

I can’t help but think many of us walk about tinkling and sounding as we perform our ‘good deeds’. I include myself in this group – for love does not come naturally to me. I know this is true because I find myself angry at people more than I should be if I love them. Most of my anger against people springs from my heart when I am in my vehicle, and is directed at total strangers.

I can almost hear the tinkling cymbal as it pings down the road. If only I had love, I’d be somebody.

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“Fuel To Fires” ( Proverbs 15: 1, WYC ) by Carley Evans


English: A metaphorical visualization of the w...
English: A metaphorical visualization of the word Anger. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A soft answer breaketh ire; an hard word raiseth strong vengeance.”

Answer an accusation softly and God says your quiet, humble answer breaks your accuser’s wrath, great anger, and intense resentment. Respond with a harsh word, and expect your response to “raise strong vengeance.” The person is all ready angry at you; your hard word in return adds only fuel to the fire.

I’m sure you’ve seen this work in your own life. A client, perhaps, complains about your performance. Their anger washes over you and makes your defenses rise. You want to defend your actions; the words in your mind are sharp, hard, crisp, angry. You take a deep breath. You speak softly, agreeing with your client. ‘Yes, I could have done that differently. I’ll work on that for you.’

And your client is appeased; their rage dissipates. You avoid adding fuel to the fire and escape “strong vengeance.”

 

“Of Anger, Swearing, and Lies — Sin” ( James 5: 12, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


James exhorts, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your ‘yes’ must be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ must be ‘no,’ so that you won’t fall under judgment.”

Yesterday, on the interstate driving to pick up my daughter from an international airport, a man dangerously cut me off as I was changing lanes at 65 to 70 mph. I am ashamed to say, in my moment of terror I was angry at him. He must have known by my gesture how angry I felt, because he suddenly put on his brakes and moved his car in my direction. Sensing immediate danger, I pulled around the right side of the truck I had been attempting to pass legally on the left. The car continued to follow me. I thought I saw a police officer on a motorcycle on the exit ramp, so I got off the interstate. The car continued to follow me. By this time, I was fearful and very ashamed of myself for losing my temper. A bout of ‘road rage’ had struck, and I was afraid was now about to backfire on me.

As I came up the ramp I realized the motorcyclist was not a police officer. The red light caught me; the car pulled up beside me in the other turning lane. I quickly glanced at the driver. An African American gentleman was sitting behind the wheel screaming at me. I looked away. I never looked back at him. He continued to call me names — names used by racists. I smiled to myself even as I grew more and more afraid. I got out my cell phone and tried to dial the highway patrol to no avail. So, I called 9-1-1. All through this, the man continued to scream obscenities at me and once he threw something at my window. That ‘plink’ on the glass startled me, but I still did not look at the man. As the light turned green, he sped away from me as I followed him back onto the interstate. I let him pull away while I spoke to the dispatcher at 9-1-1.

She asked me all sorts of questions, but the important one — what caused him to behave that way? — was the only one I didn’t answer truthfully. I told her I was carrying a gun, but that I didn’t pull it out of my glove compartment. I told her the man was very angry and kept yelling at me, that he threw a rock or some item from his car at my car. Did he damage your car? No, m’am. Can you see him now? Yes, m’am. Her questions continued for quite awhile; this is not common in my area of the country. Usually, the dispatcher listens and then closes the conversation rather quickly. This woman kept asking me about the incident, seemingly trying to locate the man in the car along the interstate. I began to drive into a rainstorm and ended the 9-1-1 call so that I would not have an accident.

I kept driving. Only later did I cry, realizing how evil (and stupid!) I’d been and how blessed I’d been almost at the same time.

“Therefore, confess your sins one to the other and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

“Whoever Is Slow To Anger” ( Proverbs 16: 32, ESV ) by Carley Evans


“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”

James asks, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?” And answers, “Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:1-3)

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11) Therefore, “do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged.” (James 5:9) “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape.” (Proverbs 19:5) Therefore,”do not swear, either by heaven and by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” (James 5:12)

“Who is wise and understanding among you?” asks James, and answers, “By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” (James 4:13) “In the meekness of wisdom” is restraint. “Whoever keeps his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23) “The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness.” (James 3:6) “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (James 3:9-10)

Lord God, our Maker, forgive us for rising so quickly to anger and dissension. Forgive us for and heal us from bitterness and rage. Help us to reign over our passions. Keep us meek and wise. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

“Why Are You Angry?” ( Genesis 4: 6, ESV ) by Carley Evans


Cain, the “worker of the ground,” is angry. His offering to God has brought him “no regard.” (Genesis 4:2,4) His face falls. God asks, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?” Then God warns, “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

Sin desires to rule over Cain, and succeeds. Cain’s anger against God turns to envy of and jealousy against his brother. He rises up against Abel and kills him “when they are in the field.” (Genesis 4:8)

Anger against God results in failing to be our “brother’s keeper.” (Genesis 4:9) Since we are unable to strike out at God in any direct manner, we turn against our brothers. In our anger is the seed of murder.

Sin has a consequence for Cain, one which “is greater than [he] can bear.” (Genesis 4:13) He “goes away from the presence of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:16) “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7) The consequence – separation from God – “is greater than [we] can bear.” (Genesis 4:13)

Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide, and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

“Hot Anger And Steadfast Love” ( 1 John 1: 9, Psalm 86: 5; ESV ) by Carley Evans


God makes it crystal clear that He is holy and just. In Him there is no darkness. He makes it even clearer that He is merciful. Throughout His Word, He speaks of and shows off His great hatred of disobedience, sin, and waywardness. Simultaneously, He speaks of and shows off His willingness and great desire to forgive, restore, and love those He calls His own.

Our part is believing these two truths regarding the nature of God. Believing in God’s wrath necessarily leads to fear, but “perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18) Our fear is rather awe of God, a marveling of God’s ability to “forgive the iniquity of Your people; You cover all their sin. You withdraw all Your wrath; You turn from Your hot anger.” (Psalm 85:2-3) “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.” (Psalm 85:11)

Jesus proclaims, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32) “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins; I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (Luke 5:24)

“If we confess our sins, [You] are faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” “For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You.”

“Promote The Justice Of God” (James 1: 22, NEB) by Carley Evans


Do not be fast to get angry, writes James. Instead, remain quiet and listen. “For a man’s anger cannot promote the justice of God.” James advises us to remove from our lives “all that is sordid, and the malice that hurries to excess.”

Malice hurries to excess; hatred engages our emotion, making us blind and deaf to truth. Anger destroys calm. James advises us to keep control over our tongues so that we remain quiet and listen. As we listen to the other calmly, we may find our anger slipping.

Malice builds barriers between us and the other, so that we are incapable of listening to the other side of the story. Therefore, our anger, our malice “cannot promote the justice of God.” The scales are tipped in our favor when we cherish our anger.

Rather, says James, “be sure that you act on the message and do not merely listen; for that would be to mislead yourselves.”

“Quietly accept the message planted in your hearts, which can bring you salvation.” As we remain quiet and calm, we are capable of creating peace with the other and so “promote the justice of God.”