Anger, Strife, and Forgiveness
Jesus brought Christians to a higher standard when He preached the will of God. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” (Matthew 5:38-40) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and send rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
Yes, Christ brought His followers and believers to a whole new level of forgiveness through the strength only God can give. The New Testament is full of Scripture encouraging us to forgive. The Apostle Paul writes to Philippi praying the church come together for two Christian women. First of all, it is embarrassing Paul had to address this situation, but I do understand the reality of Christians at war with one another. We are to be a light in a very dark world, epistles of the Word, ambassadors for Christ, yet the world looks on to divisions in the church, Christians attacking one another, cutting of friendships for an offense, and the luke-warmness of a loveless generation. My heart is burdened for the church to love one another, forgive those who have painfully broken our hearts, and to find the peace only Christ can give.
Euodia and Syntyche were two women mentioned in Philippians 4:2-3, “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, local yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the Gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the book of life.” These two women were Christians who had contended with Paul, side by side planting the seed of the Gospel. Whether through missions, providing for the Apostle, encouraging other women to follow or opening a home to Bible study, these women were followers of Christ whom God entrusted with His Word.
Some way, division is brought between these two women. Some where, the enemy was able to find a crack in the foundation of one of these women and planted a seed of strife. Some how, the seed of strife grows in to an argument and the Apostle Paul hears the situation; that should be of no shock to anyone of us. News by word of mouth travels at the speed of lightening, especially in the churches. I find it amazing how news of a sinful nature spreads like wild fire, but news of a miracle or one accepting Christ as his/her Savior is stifled.
Arguments occur for many reasons, but mostly because we are offended by another’s behavior or lack of behavior.
At times our annoyance, frustration or anger is righteous, a godly anger as Christ had flipping over the tables in the Temple for the religious had made God’s House into a den of thieves. We expect Christians to behave as the Bible commands and when they do not, we are annoyed, offended, and angry. I have experienced this many times and have brought it to the cross or my husband first. During these times I was offended or hurt, Tommy would advise, offering counsel from a calm perspective, while I attempted to receive from an irrational emotional stance. I would pray, lay the situation at the cross and wait a few days.
Many times, God would have me drop the circumstance out of my own sensitive feelings being hurt or I was too easily offended. This is my flesh growing and having the peace of Christ to forgive. There are some instances where you lay it down and walk away, but then there are some we are to confront face to face. When I say face to face, I mean no emails, texts, phone calls or letters. If there is a delicate situation, where the Lord has asked you to mend, forgive, and bring to the attention of another, this requires gentle face to face prayer and mending. According to James 1:19, “Understand, my believed brethren, let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry; for man’s anger does not promote the righteousness of God.” My prayer is the situation be brought to the Lord first, your husband and wait a few days before “mending”. “A self-confident fool utters all his anger, but a wise man holds it back and stills it.” (Proverbs 29:11). “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and a man given to anger commits and causes much transgression.” (Proverbs 29:22)
We are called to love one another as Christ loved the church. We are asked as long it is in our power to make peace, then we are to be the peacemakers not repaying evil for evil, but overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:14-21). This effort, emotion and response require humility. “As a prisoner of the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gently; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3) Pride is a tremendous hindrance in settling disputes between relationships. Who believes who is right, who believes who is wrong. We are to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of the Lord, then he will lift us up and give us honor (James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6-7).
Give the disagreement to the Lord, pray, and open the door for communication. We can not MAKE a person understand our feelings, point of view or expect another to apologize.
I have not always been able to work out disagreements with others. There have been some situations I have cast aside due to my own easily offended feelings. I have experienced arguments were I have had to pray, seeking the Lord’s counsel as how to address the person. Some situations have occurred where I needed to laid it at the altar and God reconcile it for me. I had an argument with a family member, not talking for years. It was so sad, but I prayed and left the relationship at the cross. What I did not know was the other party had done the same thing. A year later, God brought our relationship back together, standing on faith, and declaring we would never separate again. I have had other disagreements with unbelievers, for which I have asked the Lord for guidance, prayed, and laid it at the foot of the cross. Slowly these relationships have been built back up, but at times I can feel myself very leery in allowing my feelings to show. God will work out all things for those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
I pray, my sweet sister, you have no Spirit of Strife or divisions in your life. My prayer is for you to quickly run to the cross, cast all your cares over to the Lord, and forgive the ones who have caused you hurt. My prayer is your relationships are mended by the hand of God. My prayer is you grow stronger in the Word, be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then being able to know what the good, pleasing and perfect will of God is (Romans 12:2). My prayer is the church isn’t easily offended, careless, loveless, and luke-warm. My prayer is we are epistles and light to a dark world, loving the ones who do not deserve our forgiveness for our sins are forgiven daily in the eyes of God. We are to conduct ourselves in the same manner.
Pray the Prayer for Strife and Anger on our Prayer for Every Circumstance Page. You can find the full teaching under our Resource Page, One a Day; 30 Days of Prayer with the Women of the Bible, Book 1