Friday, December 26, 2014

The source of anger - James 4:1-3

"What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious 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 with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures." (James 4:1-3)
Someone once said that anger is our response to the hopeless we feel when we fail to achieve our goals in other people. We desire them to do something or to behave is a particular way, but when they don't behave or do what we wish them to do, and we are unable to make them to do and behave as we want them, then we respond in anger to the helpless feelings we have towards them and our desires for them. Often we project the cause of our anger on other people. They provoke us, they do the things that offend us, and when we ask them to change, they persist in their ways. However, while the other person may truly be behaving badly, the source of anger is within ourselves; anger comes from our own heart, not the actions of other people.

Many of our impure emotions, such as anger, resentment, bitterness, and hatred, comes from our wants and desires of our heart. We want people to love us and, when they don't, we respond with hatred. We want others to help us with our burdens and, when they won't, we respond with resentment. We want what we believe we deserve, and when we fail to get it, we lapse into anger. The secret to overcoming anger and quarreling in our lives is not in learning to repress anger, but in learning to deal with our desires that erupt into anger and conflict when they are go unrewarded. We can spend all day trying not to be angry, but until we learn to quite our desires, anger will always be an issue for us.

The secret to overcoming anger is in learning to fulfill our desires. If our desires were fulfilled, then there would be no source for our anger. Anger is the improper approach to fulfilling our desires, so what is the correct approach? One night, King David was walking on his roof. As he did, he saw a beautiful woman bathing on another rooftop. He lusted after her and wanted her. So, being king, he sent his men an took her and slept with her. Later, when his sin was found out, God sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke him. God said to David, "It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. I also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!" (2 Samuel 12:7-8) David's sin came because he sought to take what he desired rather than coming to God with his desires. God had already given him many good things and, if David needed anything else, God was ready and willing to give that as well. However, David did not look to God for what he wanted, he just reached out and took it.

The key to fulfilling our desires is to understand that it is God who is the source of all good things and that He wants us to come to Him for want we want and need rather than waging war on our own to get what we desire. Jesus said, "Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full." (John 16:24) Jesus wants to make our joy full by granting us the things we want and desire, but we must come to Him with our request and trust in Him for their fulfillment. Those who seek the fulfillment of their desires through prayer and faith towards God will never be disappointed and will give no place for anger in their lives and, even if they should ask amiss, but submitting to God and His care for their lives, they allow Him to modify the desires of the heart that they may learn to desire what is good and right rather than what is sensual and evil. Solomon said, "Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4) If we delight ourselves in the Lord than our desires will, in time, be molded after our delights and we will find ourselves desiring the things of God's Kingdom over the things of this world; the things of the Spirit over the things of the flesh.

Our only remedy for anger is Christ and our submission to Him and His portion for our lives. When we learn to become content with what He has given us and to seek all that we should desire and want from his hand, then we will learn to be truly content and to say with King David, "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me." (Psalm 16:5-6)

David Robison

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