We attended ten hours of training, it was all so great. There was one moment during the weekend that I felt the Lord helped me understand something life changing. The speaker was giving an example of how to gather data and provide hope when you are working with a new counselee. The scenario he was sharing dealt with a married couple who fought a lot and they were describing their fights. In this example, the husband would explode and yell and throw things while the wife would brood and withhold from her husband things she thought would help her to "get back at him". Obviously not a good situation.
As the speaker walked us through how to gather data so that we won't make fools of ourselves (Proverbs 18:13), he also told us of how he would give biblical hope to a couple in this dire situation. He said that he would tell them that he understands that this is a tough situation, that while it may seem bleak, there is hope because this couple was in the Bible. He would ask if they wanted to see where they were in the Bible, and they did. So, the counselor turned to Ephesians 4:31 and read it aloud.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.Then, he said he would turn to the husband and ask him to read it, as he did the counselor stopped him at wrath and began to define the word. From the Greek word "orge" which illustrates the idea of an anger that acts out in an explosiveness, like a volcano. The counselor asked the husband, "Does this sound like you?" The husband agreed that it did. Then the counselor turned the Bible to the wife and asked her to read the passage. She began and he stopped her right after she read the word anger. The counselor explained that the word anger in this passage comes from the Greek work "thumos" and refers to a boiling, simmering rage that calculates revenge. He asked the wife is she thought that was a fair assessment of her responses to her husband. She agreed it was. Then, the counselor provided the hope for change, found in the very next verse, Ephesians 4:32.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.The speaker went on to explain the put off/put on principle and how to apply it in a counseling scenario. And there I sat. Amazed. If you are worried about my marriage, please don't be. It wasn't the scenario which was so enlightening to me. It was understanding the biblical definition of the words in that passage. I have known my whole life that I struggled with intense emotional feelings, when I am happy I am super giddy, when I am sad I am very blue, when I am mad you didn't want to be around. Ever since becoming a Christian, with the help of the Bible and some friends, I began the process of calling sin by its name. I was not frustrated, I was sinfully angry. I was not exaggerating, I was lying. I was not relaxing a little, I was being lazy. And so on. It became very evident quite quickly that my main problem was anger.
Once I was convicted by the Word that I needed to change in this area I began praying for God's help to be less angry and more patient. Sometimes it meant that I needed to believe the best and not assume that the person meant to hurt my feelings or insult me. James 3 talks about how difficult it is to tame the tongue, so I would beg God to help me bridle my tongue. I remember seeing a shirt that said, "God keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth!" and wanting it badly! For the past few years I have seen steady growth in this area, things will "roll off my back" and I am less likely to smoulder with a boiling rage, and when I start, I will quickly seek the Lord to squash that growing anger.
And yet, sometimes I still explode. The mess is not as monumental, but the volcanic pressure is there. My words still sting with displeasure when they should be a sweet healing balm. And I was growing discouraged, wondering why I was not seeing improvement in this area even though I had been struggling so hard against it. When the speaker defined those two words, it was like, AH HAH! I have been begging the Lord to help me with my anger problem, and He has. But I have never asked for Him to help me with my wrath problem. I didn't know I had one. Considering that Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things, I guess it would be better to say I refused to see and admit that I had a problem with wrath, honestly, that just sounded too ugly.
So what now? Well, I need to confess my sin in this area, and seek forgiveness from the Lord and my family. Then I need to earnestly seek the Lord and ask for His help as I strive, with help from the Holy Spirit, to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving. Many years of bad habits need to be broken, but with God's help each opportunity I take to be patient and kind and gentle instead of angry and wrathful will be one more step in my progressive sanctification. How sweet the Lord was to reveal my sin, loving me enough to not leave me it in, and full of mercy and grace to transform me into the likeness of Christ.
Now that I know what I am asking for...