Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Anger Management

By Allen White

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

 “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

 “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:12-22

It’s hard to grasp the reality that Jesus is both God and man. He’s not half and half, but fully God and fully man. If we tend to think of Him as more one than the other, we enter into heresy.

I used to think Jesus could do all of the miracles He did because He is God. He lived a perfect life because of His Deity. How could I compete with that?

Yet everything Jesus did was directed by His Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We can relate to that.
Accepting a Divine Being in human form is challenging to grasp. It ranks right up there with God revealing Himself as a Trinity – again, mind boggling. But, the hardest thing for us to grasp is the love of God.

How could a perfect God have such mercy on imperfect people? How could He have such compassion for humans, who by their actions made themselves His enemies? We know what God has revealed about Himself, but we certainly don’t know everything about Him.

In these two accounts, we witness something remarkable about Jesus. He is angered by the money changers who are cheating the devout at the temple. And, He’s angered by a fruitless fig tree. Jesus is mad. He turns over tables and curses a tree. Jesus didn’t sin, but He also didn’t hold it in.

The money changers were an obstacle to honest worship. The fig tree got in the way of a full tummy. Both of these irked Jesus, and He made that known. Jesus didn’t take time to reason all of this out. Sometimes zeal takes things where wisdom cannot.

The first time I saw a fig tree was on a drive along the 99 freeway in central California, near Fresno. The trees looked bent over and deformed – frankly, they all looked cursed. But, figs weren’t the issue. Jesus was teaching His disciples about faith.

The withered fig tree was a small example of the power of faith in God. Jesus told them, “If you think this is something, then you just wait. You ain’t seen nothing yet.” (I’m sure our Perfect Savior didn’t have bad grammar.)

Jesus is a real person. He feels things just like we do. Jesus didn’t have an anger problem. He expressed His anger, but He never sinned.

What do you do when you feel anger? Do you lash out at someone? Do you sulk and fume?

The sin and evil of this world should make us angry. But, rather than just ranting and raving about the wrongs of this world, what are you doing about it? If your anger merely makes you unpleasant to be around, then you’re not accomplishing much for God’s Kingdom.

Pay attention to what makes you angry. When you hit that Popeye moment when you “can’t stanz it no more,” then ask God what He wants you to do about it. As Jesus said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

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