Keeping It Together

“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” (Psalm 37:8 ESV)
This is not the typical verse one would highlight in Psalm 37.  We usually camp on Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”.  Right?  If I do good, God will bless me and give me what I desire.  And, then we modify it a bit by explaining if we delight ourselves in God, our desires will change.  I wish that was the case.  Even when we enjoy our relationship with Him, we still have to engage our own rottenness.
That’s why I like this verse.  David continued to be a man after God’s heart . . . but, he also confronted some of his own emotional heat.
Several years ago on Twitter, a well known pastor was having a challenging day as he traveled through different airports.  His anger got the best of him as he told us . . . in several tweets using all 140 characters . . . of the airline’s employee’s lack of competence and his inconvenience.  I’ve been there.  Sometimes the wrong button is pushed and the big, green hulking thing inside of us starts rippin’ and roarin’.
David, a man who enjoyed intimacy with God gives us encouraging instruction.
Don’t Get Mad.  The psalmist writes, “Refrain from anger.”.  Refrain means to avoid or resist.  It can also mean temperance or to “know your limits” or “know whe you’ve had enough”.  In this reference, anger refers to a “slow burning aggravation”.  It’s letting something sit on a very low heat until it starts to boil.  David wrote, “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.”  (Ps 4:4)  A word of wisdom from Proverbs 17:14 reminds us, “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.“.
Don’t Lose It.  David says, “Forsake wrath”.  Anger is the simmering, wrath is the spewing.  Wrath is when our words become condescending and our wisdom becomes complacent.  This is when we want to promote our rightness when we should be proving our righteousness.  Paul reminds us, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph 4:31-32)
Don’t Worry About It.  Okay . . . I’m not pulling a Bob Marley . . . “Don’t worry, be happy”.  This is not a futile effort of emotional control.  It’s an exchange of fret for faith.  David tells us, “Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”  Paul reminded the Christ followers in Philippi, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6, 7 MSG).  It’s replacing our worry with worship . . . our inconveince with intercession . . . our perplexity with praise.
David gives wise instruction at the conclusion of Psalm 37, “Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.” (Ps 37:37)
Anger . . . wrath . . . worry?  Or, blameless . . . upright . . . a man of peace?  I want the latter.  May we delight ourselves in Him and recieve the desire of our heart . . .

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