Monday, June 6, 2011

The Truth Without Anger - Freedom Used Responsibly

I'm a Cubs fan. My Cubbies stink. Carlos Zambrano, a veteran "leader" on the team (and leader is in quotes because... I don't know if they really have any leaders) called out his teammates calling their play embarrassing. And every word he said was accurate.

Here's the problem. Zambrano has a history with anger issues. And so, people will ignore what he says and blame him.

He's not a good teammate. He's throwing people under the bus. This might have meant something if someone else said it, but since Zambrano said it, eh, he's just a nut job and get rid of him.


We often hear to speak the truth in love. For myself, I tend to like thinking in terms of speaking the truth without anger. Why? Because when you demonstrate anger, one of two things will happen:

1. It will serve as cold water in the face, waking people up.
2. It will provide people an excuse to ignore what you say.

Does this mean that I think that a Christian cannot show anger? No. Not at all. In fact, an excellent examination of "anger" from a biblical point of view is here:

This is more a statement on myself. I rarely trust myself to keep anger from becoming rage. I can much more safely, for myself, start speaking calmly and add a dash of cold-water-to-the-face anger inflections when needed.

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What this drives to is something that I think is often missing from discussions on behavior. All too often we debate whether or not one "can" do something rather than whether or not someone "should" do something. Consider the following verses:

"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." - Galatians 5:13

""All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up." - 1 Corinthians 10:23

"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger," - Ephesians 4:26

The question should not be whether or not I *can* get angry, but whether or not I should - whether I should let that anger show forth. For me, Eric Brown, with my own strengths and weaknesses, with my own issues... the answer is most of the time going to be no. Because when I become angry, I have a hard time stopping. I can have a beer - no problem stopping at 1 or 2 beers for me... for others, well, they can't stop that. Therefore, they probably shouldn't have one.

Those are just the breaks in life.

And I know this makes things... difficult. It makes things difficult because those blanket statements that apply to everyone... well, we have to admit that sometimes they don't apply to everyone. Not everyone has the temptations which I have, so not everyone needs to fence and control themselves in the same way I do. Not everyone has my weaknesses, not everyone has my strengths. When I teach, when I advise them... I can't do it on the basis of my own set up, but their own.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." - 1 Corinthians 10:13 Everything is "common" -- even if what tempts someone else is unappealing to me, I can at least understand it enough to know how temptation works... even if I have very little draw to that particular thing.

This is why the Scriptures continually teach not a rote set of rules, but freedom, freedom used wisely and not as an occasion for sin. This can be applied across the board - examine yourself, consider your actions -- if you do x, will it lead to sin. If so, flee from x, even if someone else can do it.

This is not anti-nomianism - it is knowing that the Law has been fulfilled in Christ, and rather exercising Self-Control, which is a fruit of the Spirit.

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