The more I looked at the bill the madder I got. It was ridiculous, outrageous, sheer robbery! So I called the phone company. I asked the customer service representative how Pluto* could justify charging me $14.47 for a three minute collect call. He said I was not a Pluto client and therefore I had to pay the connection fee and the high rate charged. Attempting to control my rising ire, I explained that this was a great way to ensure I would never be one of their customers. He was unsympathetic, unconcerned and suggested that’s what I get for making a collect call.
Feeling my head warm, I called my local phone provider. Hoping to get some relief instead I was lectured. The woman could care less that my bill was high, shared that she had known for 15 years not to make collect calls and that Pluto could charge me whatever they wanted. When I suggested I would not pay such a fee, she said she would note on my account our conversation and assured me I would be assessed a fine if the bill was not paid in full. Guess what occupied my thoughts for the rest of the day? Cato once said, “An angry man opens his mouth and shuts up his eyes.” Well, my eyes stayed open, but it was all I could do to keep the hinges of my mouth shut!
Mark 3:4,5--Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. After looking around at them with anger and sorrow at the hardness of their hearts, He told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
Anger as an emotion is not necessarily wrong. It is what we do with anger that determines its value. Jesus illustrates in the above passage, that there are times when anger is justified. When we encounter evil we have a right to feel righteous anger. But that anger must be controlled such that God is honored. The moment we lose the ability to manage our mouths or emotions, we potentially stray into sin.
Solomon wrote, “Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry,for anger abides in the heart of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9). A French proverb notes, “Anger is a bad counsellor”. The Apostle Paul warned the Ephesians, “ Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity” (Eph. 4:26,27). James, the brother of Jesus, taught—“Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity”(James 1:19,20).
I disagree with the charges I was assessed. I don’t believe I said anything unkind to the phone representatives I spoke with as I struggled to remain polite. But for the remainder of the day, my thoughts were consumed with finding another phone carrier and with a lingering resentment towards a man and a woman I felt were rude. Instead of praying for them I smoldered. Instead of thanking God for a phone that works and the ability to make calls I festered. My emotions were not bettered. In short, I blew it.
The best way to know a man is to watch him when he is angry.—Hebrew Proverb
Have you suddenly turned a corner in any relationship and found that you had anger in your heart? Confess it quickly, quickly put it right before God, be reconciled to that one--do it now.—Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest
*Not their real names
©2002 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the "Click here to receive weekly devotionals" box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)