by Pastor Tim Burt
Renee and I have been married for 37 years. We have a wonderful marriage by the grace of God. When we were first married, that was not the case because of our youth and immaturity. We were downright childish at times and it was reflected in the arguing, fighting, and anger that happened far too frequently. We survived because we knew we loved each other, and loved God even more. We were committed to learning how to love each other, and to communicating in all the right ways that would work. When we learned to listen to each other, put ourselves in the other’s shoes, stick to the issues we had to work through, and treat each other with respect at all times, we had the breakthrough that took our marriage to a wonderful place.
Hatred and anger are real emotions that are given by God, but He gave them to us to be used rightly. Romans 12:9 says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Hatred is not to be aimed toward one another. To the contrary, in many scriptures we are exhorted to “get along,” “to forgive one another,” “to work things out.” These are mandates with which Jesus said, “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father (in Heaven) will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:15)
The Apostle Paul also taught us that in general, we need to recognize that it’s not people that we are battling, but demonically wicked spiritual forces in the background that work to get people to fight and destroy each other. Eph 6:10-12 says, “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.”
We are to oppose evil and wickedness and work to overcome it. Romans 12:21 instructs and exhorts us, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” When we are in a position of seeing evil that we should oppose, the emotions of hatred or anger can fuel us to do so, but we need to exercise that energy in a godly fashion.
Evil is opposed in many different ways and at many different levels. In war, evil is opposed militarily with strategies and weapons of warfare. At the level of street crime, evil is opposed by different forms of police and government law enforcement agencies. In our day-to-day lives we are to oppose evil or wrong, but never outside the boundaries of respect.
I recently received a letter from a friend of mine, a Christian who manages complaint letters within a large corporation that sells retail products. He was telling me that many of the letters he receives are written by those that have somehow identified themselves as Christians, and yet their letters and emails are completely outside the boundaries of respect and Christian representation. Their comments contained cursing, were mean-spirited, rude or sarcastic, and worse. You couldn’t find a trace of Christ-like attitude in them if you tried.
We are the representatives of Jesus in the earth. That is a huge responsibility and one we’ll make many mistakes in. But what helps me get this more right than wrong is remembering that anger can destroy in a minute, but ultimately, “love never fails.”
1 Cor. 13:8 (NIV) “Love never fails…”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt