September 26

polishing rocks with waterSunday school began again three weeks ago at my church. We had to meet in another building for the summer and could not have Sunday school. We are now back in the building we’ve worshiped in for the last three years and everything started up again several weeks back. The first week I missed because of helping with the two and three year old class – I help out once every six week with them. I missed the second week because I was out of town, but yesterday, I was able to attend and as always, the lesson hit me where it hurt. The pastor is teaching from Proverbs. The subject is anger. Proverbs about anger are typed neatly on a one page     hand out:

“An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.”  Proverbs 29:21-23
“For the churning of milk produces butter, and pressing the nose brings forth blood…” Proverbs 30:32-33
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”   Proverbs 15:1-3
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute.”   Proverbs 15:17-19
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty…”Proverbs 16:31-33
“A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”  Proverbs 19:10-12

As I see it, I am always polishing the rocks in my character. I am as jagged as a multifaceted quartz. Sometimes, I do not even know where to begin polishing. The need for self-control is primary in every nook of my being, every cranny in my character. Almost every day I find a new rock that I must polish with self-control. Here are some of the chinks in my character regarding anger that I have to buff hard to polish away the edges.

Rock one. Why do I get upset when I see someone do something wrong? Or when I have to do the right thing and another person does not. Why am I angry and want to quarrel with the people around me? God tells me that if those things are in me, they are not from Him, they are earthly, natural, demonic. “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”(James 3:14)

Rock two. I am struggling with the concept that I am responsible only for myself. I have to behave the way God expects me to behave. The way I promised Him I would behave when I became His child. I have to be an island in this respect. I have to pretend that I am standing all alone surrounded only by water and be concerned only about what I do and say. I have to keep my eyes on Him, not on the person here in front of my face. Especially if that he is not behaving the way I think he should. That someone and God are responsible for him.

Rock three. As if one struggle is not enough, from class yesterday came the added conviction that it is not sufficient to control my physical actions. If I control my anger physically, that is good, but not enough. I must control my angry thoughts, for if I am angry and do not act but continue to be angry inside, I am still “an angry man.”

Well, isn’t that just wonderful? Don’t I just love that? Working on me is a full time job. There is never a vacation and it is always something new. I don’t feel as though I ever get one rock polished before there is a new jagged stone dropped in my lap. Work on this for awhile.

Gracious Father, give me a renewed strength to polish these rough edges. Strengthen my self-control. Hold my hand, speak in my ear, keep me from anger in any shape or form. Fill me with Your Spirit and teach me how to “rule my spirit.” For if I am able to do this thing through Christ who strengthens me, then it will be done for You and Your glory alone.