A couple of weeks ago, our pastor preached on anger…and he said something that I had honestly never considered. He pointed out that most of the time when we get angry it’s because we’re selfish. Think about it: when I get frustrated in traffic, what’s the real cause? My time is being wasted…I am going to be late. When we were kids, we’d get mad at our parents for telling US what to do, when it wasn’t what WE wanted to do. Hmmm…
James 4:1-6 points out that our anger comes from our selfish desires and our pride. I like the way that “The Message” puts it:
1-2Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
2-3You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.
4-6You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”
The Contemporary English Version says it this way:
1Why do you fight and argue with each other? Isn’t it because you are full of selfish desires that fight to control your body? 2You want something you don’t have, and you will do anything to get it. You will even kill! But you still cannot get what you want, and you won’t get it by fighting and arguing. You should pray for it. 3Yet even when you do pray, your prayers are not answered, because you pray just for selfish reasons.
4You people aren’t faithful to God! Don’t you know that if you love the world, you are God’s enemies? And if you decide to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5Do you doubt the Scriptures that say, “God truly cares about the Spirit he has put in us”? [a] 6In fact, God treats us with even greater kindness, just as the Scriptures say, “God opposes everyone who is proud, but he is kind to everyone who is humble.”
This sermon has been on my mind for the past two weeks, and I’ve really come to realize how selfish I really am. How humbling! I thought that I was pretty good about putting others first, but this has served as a HUGE reminder that I’m not even close to what God desires of us–and that none of us are! This is really making me think about why things frustrate me, and I’m much more aware of how “me-centered” I am.
Praise the Lord for pastors who aren’t afraid to preach about the “tough stuff”–because I bet no one in our congregation has been able to stop thinking about this.
On a somewhat related note, a friend told me about this song today, and the lyrics are powerful. It goes along with my “theme song”, which is “Crazy” by MercyMe. So I thought I’d share:
“The Motions” by Matthew West
This might hurt
It’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care
If I break
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just ok
Is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life
I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions
Not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love
Make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something
Take me all the way
I want to live my life, all or nothing, for Jesus…it’s as simple as that.