"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Love and Irritability

Ecclesiastes asserts there is a time and place for every action and emotion under heaven. This must include anger. God certainly exhibits anger, and Jesus demonstrated it from time to time in various degrees. Anger is not always wrong, and it is not always sin. Sometimes, however, when our buttons are easily pushed, when we are easily provoked, when our anger is stirred at the drop of a hat, when we become greatly distressed over matters that later appear minor, it can only be supposed that we are not coming from a place motivated primarily by love.

Godly anger is motivated by godly motives. His values are being violated, people are being hurt, his truth is being compromised. We must take a stand and speak clearly on his behalf. There is a time for such anger, and God stands with his hands on our shoulders as we become his channels for such energy, still motivated, even at those times, by his love.

Much of the anger that gets us in trouble is the kind Paul alludes to in 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love is not… easily angered.” The Corinthians were even suing one another rather than approaching one another in love to reconcile their differences. Of course, such things would never happen in the church today (insert sarcastic tone here).

Some of the attitudes that set us up to be easily angered include: a highly opinionated approach to life (a prideful attitude that implies “I know best.”); a lot of beliefs, beyond scriptural principles, about the way things “should" be done; personal insecurity and self-doubt easily triggered by off-hand remarks; a desire to have personal control of things that are beyond one’s personal control; an unrealistic need for the approval of others; projection of our own dark hearts onto the character of others (so that we can safely judge them from a distance). What these things have in common is an attitude of godlikeness-- with a small “g.”

Rather than becoming like our Father, who forgave us much, we are becoming little gods of our little kingdoms, setting up our thrones of judgment and control and handing out judgment and retribution when people fail to meet our standards. What is lacking in our hearts at such times is clearly agape love. Agape love, expressed in Gods child, is not easily angered because it is not invested in ruling its own little kingdom. It knows that is God’s job.

Agape, expressed through people, knows that it is forgiven, and gives itself away freely on that basis. We love, from agape, not because the other person fails to annoy us (on the basis of our own arbitrary standards) but because God loved us first. The only reasonable outcome of such love is that it be given away—with abandon. In order to do so, I must let the peace that comes from Christ rule in my heart (which means setting aside the many other idols I have placed there) and let him rule. Then I will kneel, side by side with my brothers and sisters, objects of his love, grace and mercy, freely loved, freely loving.

“Love is not… easily angered.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

“And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace.” Colossians 3:14-15


  1. Once again, your comments provoke the mirror of self-examination that is needed regularly......thank you

  2. Love this blog!