I allowed anger to control me and look what happened.
When was the last time you were angry?
I am not necessarily referring to your recent outburst at the guy who cut you off in traffic or the vengeful thoughts you might have against the person who did you wrong (although those certainly would count). I’m I am also referring to the other forms of anger out there. You know: resentment; bitterness; jealousy. That’s the thing about anger, it shows up in our life in a variety of ways.
Personally, am not an angry person. My wife has never seen me yell at another person (unless you count the OKC Thunder when they miss a shot). Despite this, I am not immune to anger. For me, it just shows up in a different, but just as harmful, way.
It happened this past Sunday. I was on my way home from work and needed to fill my car up with gas. Where I decided to fill up was on one of our main roads in town where many homeless people can be found on the sidewalk, holding up signs and asking for money/food. I was sitting in my car as the pump was running when I noticed a man coming around the backside of my car.
The moment I caught sight of the man, I felt something in my heart. From the way he looked (which I cringe even as I type), I knew he was going to come around and ask me for some money. I felt angry. This was not the type of anger where I would lash out, or say something hurtful, or throw something across the parking lot. But it was anger all the same.
I didn’t want to have to hear the reasons, or look for money, or even be put in a situation where I would have to decline. But something much worst happened instead.
The man didn’t even make eye-contact with me as he came around the back of my car. In fact, we wasn’t even headed in my general direction, but to the trash can located at the end of my pump. He rummaged a bit through the trash, obviously looking for something. Before I could react, he shook his head in disappointment and went along to the next trash can a pump over.
. . . .
James, the brother of Jesus, talked about anger. He stated in his letter to the scattering churches: "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Think about the progression of those three things: listen, slow down, and control your anger.
When we become angry, it’s often our emotions that control the situation. We say things we don’t mean, we do things we know we shouldn’t do, and we act in ways that are completely opposite of who we want to be. Simply put, we lose control. You cannot sympathize with someone when you are angry at them.
Quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
I was a fool last Sunday. As Proverbs 12:16 states, fools show their annoyance at once. I allowed anger to cloud what was really happening in that moment at the gas station. And when I allowed anger to cloud my vision, I missed out on an important opportunity.
. . . .
I felt deflated as the man shuffled away from my trash can to the one at the other pump. Quickly, a rummage through my car looking for any loose change. Anything I could hand to the man and say, “go next door and get yourself something real to eat.” He deserved that much at least.
But I ran out of time. By the time I had the money in hand, the man was gone. I missed my opportunity to help because I allowed anger to control me in the beginning. Don’t be like me. Don’t look back at a moment wishing you could take back what you said, did, or didn’t do.
Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.