Welcome to my new series entitled, “How to Focus on What We Can Control in an Out of Control World”!

Each week I am going to be recapping the discussion from my Wednesday Facebook Live videos.  If you’d like to catch up, you can watch last week’s video HERE

Last week, I kicked off the series by answering, “Just what can we control in a world that is out of control all around us?” The answer is simple.  Ourselves.  We cannot control what goes on around us or what other people do, but we can control our choices and how we respond to the world around us.

As I was conducting some research for an article, I decided to take to social media and ask the question: What things do you find yourself getting easily irritated about?

My purpose in asking this question was to get an idea about “first world problem” complaints such as WiFi that’s too slow. I received a huge number of responses and while several readers commented on typical irritants, such as crazy drivers and noisy chewers, most of the answers (nearly three times as many) took an entirely different direction. As I studied the answers I noticed a pattern.  I was able to break down the things that irritate people most into two basic categories:

  1. Interrupted tasks
  2. Interrupted relationships

There is so much going on in the world right now that people are angry about. It seems every issue is polarizing and drenched in division and fear.  I get it. There are things I am angry about too.  If you take a moment to step back and look at the bigger picture, the overarching reason for the people’s anger is centered around how people treat others. In every relationship, whether on the personal level or the random passerby, we as humans have an expectation of being treated with respect.  When offense takes place, whether intentional or as a result of thoughtlessness, anger can easily set in.

Enter our topic for week 1: How to Control our Anger

Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil opportunity.”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I am sure you have heard the middle section of that verse. “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” But how often have you focused on that last part? You know, the part about not giving the devil opportunity? Somehow in all my years of reading that verse, I admit, I’ve missed it.

The Bible is clear.  It is not wrong to be angry.  God Himself gets angry.  But it is what we do in response to our anger that is key. When we choose to use our anger as an excuse to sin, we allow the enemy opportunity. Opportunity to gain ground and pull us away from our pursuit of God.

Can I ask you a question?

If a thief came into your house in broad daylight and you had full ability to defend yourself and run him off, would you sit back and do nothing? Would you kindly show him to your valuables and offer to bag them up for him while He enjoyed the nice cup of coffee you’d just made for yourself? Would you then grab some rope for him and willingly sit down in a chair and give him your best tips for tying you up? Of course you wouldn’t!!

John 10:10 says, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.” Though we do not often take the time to acknowledge it, our enemy is an unrelenting thief who continuously prowls around our lives waiting for open doors and opportunity to steal our joy, kill our ability to thrive in God’s best and destroy every relationship and God-given gift we have.

When we choose to hold on to anger and respond in sin, we are just like the example of the person who sits back and welcomes the thief and gives access to everything valuable we possess.  We literally pack up our joy and tie ourselves up in bondage to his delight.

But here’s the good news….we don’t have to give our enemy ground.  We have the ability to choose God’s best and shut him down before he even takes a step in our direction with his traps and lies.  How? We remember what we can control! We have control over our choices and when we choose to respond to angry situations in a way that is completely contradictory to our human nature, people notice and the enemy’s power is immediately  diffused.

Each week I leave my listeners with what I call “Put it into Practice”. These are practical, easy to remember steps to help empower you to take control of how you respond to the world around you.

Here is last week’s Put it into Practice:

  1. PAUSE BEFORE YOU REACT – There is no way to avoid everything in life that can cause anger.  Things are going to happen. A simple tool to help avoid feelings of regret later on and potentially turning someone away from the love of Jesus is to simply pause. Some people count. Others pray.  Or some just take deep breaths.  The point is to tame that tongue and it’s sharp reactions before it causes damage and gives the enemy that ground he so loves to claim.  If you are a parent, remember that your littlest and most important disciples are right there watching how you respond to the world around you and they will emulate your example.  As the saying goes: More is caught than taught.
  2. ASK YOURSELF: IS THIS WORTH MY PRECIOUS ENERGY? – I don’t know about you, but my energy reserve is running on low most days. With the responsibilities of life and the cares of this world, I don’t have much left to give.  Did you know it takes energy to be angry? True story.  It is the easier response for our flesh, but it robs you of precious energy as well as time with those who depend on you each day.  As hard as this may be to hear, may I lovingly remind you that the person or situation that caused you anger is not dwelling on it and being drained as a result of it as you are? For your own sake and for the sake of those who love you most, make that choice to let go of offense and submit it to God.  After all, its His breath in our lungs – as the song goes – and as His children, loved and forgiven, we can do so much more to honor Him when we choose to deal with anger in self control followed by love.

In doing so, we have a tremendous opportunity to show love in such a way that causes people to pause and ask, “What is different about that person?” And that’s just the point, isnt’ it? Whatever our season of life, profession or gifting, our purpose as believers is to glorify Christ and share with others that they too might be saved. This creates an open door to share the love of Christ that we are so privileged to walk freely in.

Father, I pray you would set my mind to choose love in every situation today.  I pray you would help me to pause before I react to the frustrating things that will surely take place around me. I ask you to help me to see others through your eyes and show them the grace that you so willingly gave me.  Help me to walk in love and not irritation today, Lord.  

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stay tuned as we discuss praying for others in WEEK 2 of our series: How to Focus on What We Can Control in an Out of Control World!

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