I don’t know about you, but I can count on the fact that at some point during the day something will happen that will make me angry. It could be something I do. It may be something that happens to me. Or it could be something that happens that does not involve me at all. It seems like in 2019 there is always an opportunity to become angry.
I’ll be honest, I think the media looks for stories that will push us into anger. We are at the point now where we can just look at a headline and immediately exhibit outrage. Sometimes the outrage is legit. Certainly when you hear of a parent who abuses and then kills their child it is natural to be angry, right? But what about when here is a viral video of a person in a store who appears to respond in a way that is not right? Is it okay to lash out in outrage towards that person?
A few real questions for people today are…
“Is it acceptable to be angry?”
“Is it acceptable to exhibit outrage?”
“How do I know the difference between what deserves outrage and what does not?”
First, it is acceptable to be angry. On its best day, anger is a natural response to activity that is not acceptable. Webster defines anger as: ‘a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism’. Sometimes I do things that I discover I am not happy with. So I get angry at my foolishness. But just because I get angry doesn’t make it acceptable. Looking in Scripture, God reveals that He gets angry… a lot. Primarily it is injustice that makes Him angry. He is holy. He designed us to be holy. So when humans don’t act like we are supposed to, it gives Him a strong feeling of displeasure. God was angry at individuals (Cain), at communities (Sodom and Gomorrah), at nations (Philistines), and at the whole world (Noah’s flood).
Jesus was angry at times. He was angry at the hypocritical religious leaders who were mistreating people. He was angry at unbelief. The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead gives us the shortest verse in the Bible. When John tells us, “Jesus wept,” It doesn’t mean He was distraught over losing a dear friend to death. Rather, it means Jesus was visibly upset.. at the unbelief of the people who knew Him but did not truly believe Him.
The apostle Paul was angered by similar things. He disliked people who spiritually abused others and those who trampled the work of Christ… as he had once done. In Ephesians 4:26 he tells Christians, “Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” This tells us two things.
It is acceptable for a Christian to be angry. But there is also an expectation that we are to be angry without violating God’s law. It is alright for a Christian to be angry when a man shoots up a school. But we are not allowed to hate the man. We can be outraged at the injustice of such an act, but we cannot be un-Christlike towards the perpetrator of the injustice. That Paul would say that we should not let the sun go down on our anger is to guide us in our anger. We should be in control of our anger instead of being controlled by it. Holy people can have anger, but anger should not have us. We place the limits on our anger, or else it will consume us.
So if it is acceptable to be angry, is it okay to exhibit outrage? As long as the situation calls for it, and it is restrained within holy limits, we can express our anger. This takes serious focus and attentiveness to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Jesus overturned tables when He saw the injustice of the thieves in the temple. Paul struck a man blind who was opposing his missionary work. Paul recommended shunning when people went beyond certain lines of rebellion. But again, these expressions are not crazy, open-ended deals. It isn’t Christlike to flip out. It is Christlike to be loving and measured, even if what you are doing doesn’t necessarily look loving. Whatever a Christian does should be in love. This includes exhibiting anger. Be angry, but do not sin. This seems weird, but it is real.
Knowing the difference between what is outrage-worthy and what is not is sort of tricky. One thing seems totally over the top to one person while another takes it in stride. What you get angry about will be different from those things which makes your brothers and sisters in Christ angry. This is because of various environmental influences, or the fact that God puts burdens in each of our hearts. So the best thing to do is stay close to God through reading the Bible, prayer, and being in relationship with believers who live out the kind of life that aligns with holiness.
Maybe another rule of heart can be, “When in doubt, do without.” I have had to repent of getting angry too quickly, or exhibiting my anger in an unholy way. For the most part, anger itself won’t change things in a positive way. It may be more of a flag to indicate your values. But when expressed in an unwise or unholy way, you can do damage that is difficult to clean up.
So let God determine what will make you angry. Then be angry in the right way. And set limits on your anger. If we do this properly, it may very well increase our mercy toward others, and draw them into the right path… which is our ultimate goal anyway, right?!?
We live in a culture where we need to distinguish what is true from what is false. One of the most disturbing and common phrases we hear today is ‘fake news.’ This term refers to stories are intentionally false in order to smear a person or an idea. Fake news has its own set of facts, some of which are true, some of which are close to true, and some of which are wildly untrue. This concept of fake news permeates our society, with some entire news networks being dubbed, ‘Fake News Network.”
The worst part of this is that there is a market for fake news. Many people are driven by hatred toward others that they seek out stories that are not true in order to solidify their position and hatred. This demand drives supply. And then of course supply fuels demand. It is a vicious cycle.
Unfortunately even Christians can get caught up in believing, seeking out, and disseminating fake news. The problem is, fake news is a form of deceit and lying. Fake news is not a misprint, mistake in reporting. It is a lie. The difference between a mistake and a lie is intent. If my wife asks where the pop tarts are and I tell her they are on the counter because that is where I think I last left them, that is a mistake. If I tell her they are on the counter when I know for a certainty that they are in the bottom of the pantry behind the cookbooks because I want to keep them for myself, that is a lie. This is the nature of ‘fake news.’
So if a Christian is not to participate in spreading lies, how can we equip ourselves to refrain from it? Well, part of the answer lies in not believing the lies. A Christian is a person of truth living in a world of lies. When we are made into a new creation, our ‘wanter’ changes. We no longer want to do the things that are wrong. We now want to do what is right. So how do we remain pure and not become part of the fake news culture by believing and sharing lies? How can we know what is a lie in a world that is saturated with lies?
It is not easy to spot a lie… unless you know the truth. Knowing the truth is the key to not believing lies. Being able to spot a lie is not about how many lies you know, but how much truth you believe. We need to become more acquainted with the truth if we want to remain unpolluted from the lies. The earth is filled with lies. It has been ever since the first lie in the Garden of Eden when Satan lied to Eve. He attacked the truth of God when he told her that she could disobey God by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil without dying. She believed, and through her sin, the lie has multiplied. In fact, the world ‘lie’ is found around 197 times in the Bible, while the word ‘truth’ is only found around 168 times. This doesn’t mean that lies are more important than truth, but it does mean that they are more pervasive in a fallen world.
While Jesus was on the earth, He claimed to be the truth. And people were constantly having to choose between believing the truth about Him (He was the Messiah) or the lie about Him (that He was not the Messiah). At one point Jesus looked at those who had surrendered to believe the truth about Him and said, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) Christ will help you know the truth, and the truth will set you free from the lies. So how does this work in our daily life? Here are three things you can do to remain free from the entrapment of fake news…
1&2 – Limit your time with the lies. Increase your time in the truth. You don’t learn how to discern fake news by being engulfed by fake news. You learn what is right by being saturated with the truth. You may need to limit your access to media in order to flush the poison out of your system. Instead of clicking all of the links to various news stories, open up the Bible. Read what is true. Learn what is true. Love what is true. This is the best way to be able to notice what is not true.
3 – Surround yourself with people who love truth. People of truth can help you recognize lies that are out there, and also recognize those fake parts within you. This is accountability. This is about being around disciples who are also doing steps one and two. There is safety in numbers.
Truth will agree with truth. And the more you know that is true, the easier it will be to figure out what isn't true.
Today there is more fake news out there than there is truth. That doesn’t make truth less important, but it increases the value of those who know truth and speak truth. Do not dilute your witness by being part of the slavery that comes with fake news. Be a person of truth.
Psalm 121 has always been one of my favorite Psalms. Vivid imagery paired with timeless truth makes for a beautiful journey through a powerful passage about God’s care and protection.
I really learned a lot about this passage in 2016 when I was preparing for a mission trip with my church to Brazil. This trip would take me farther from my family than I had ever gone before, there was the Zika Virus outbreak, and I was working two jobs at this time. So to say I had a lot on my mind would be an understatement. I jumped in the shower after a long day at both jobs and just let the water wash over me as I was thinking of all that was going on in my life at this time. Now I have never had panic or anxiety attacks, but that night I did. My knees were weak, shortness of breath, and I was really worried about why I was feeling this way. Then I heard a voice so audible as if it was in the room with me.
“I’ve Got You.”
It was no booming voice like in The Ten Commandments film when Moses is given the commandments. It was just a loving whisper yet in the moment it was all I heard. Even to this day I remember that moment, hearing those words, and feeling that peace wash over me as I stood under the water bracing myself against the wall. “I’ve got you.” Three words and ALL of my doubts, fears, and worries were washed away.
We had been asked several weeks prior to the trip what our favorite Bible verse was and I had used Psalm 121:1-2 as mine just because I have been able to envision looking up to God for help. After receiving the comforting words that late night I decided I would go back and reread the passage and I found some more great words of comfort.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains--
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
The first couple of verses have always been an easy visual for me. In one of my favorite books there is a scene that is a nearly perfect mirror of what these verses are talking about. In one of the major battles we find an army that is extremely outnumbered standing against the forces of evil. They have endured the night, barely, and are strategizing on where they stand. They are in a valley stronghold backed into the corner with no way of escape or retreat. At this point when they are at their greatest moment of need they are reminded that they had allies on their way. As the remaining warriors are riding out to meet the enemy they look up to the eastern ridge and find their allies joining the fight. Their combined forces win the day.
When we are distressed, depressed, or otherwise embroiled in the personal battles we face day to day, our heads and spirits are often downcast and we feel as though there is no way out. We don’t always remember when we are in that situation, if we would just raise our heads we could see that God is there bringing victory to us. Now I will not say it is an instantaneous, fast, when we want it fix, or the fix we want but this chapter also speaks about how He will never leave us.
While we don’t face the same battles that are depicted in books, movies, and history but the idea is the same, “When you are down or need help, look up”.
My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.