Who’s the dope?

A motivational speaker spoke to the employees of Lake Geauga United Head Start at the beginning of the school year. His topic was “How to handle stress in the work place.” His main idea was that stress is usually brought on by our own choice to dwell on problems. For instance, many people allow something someone said to aggravate them throughout their entire day, week, month, year, or even their entire life. That’s pretty sad, but too often a reality.

Have you ever gone home from work while still mad at someone? That’s real smart, isn’t it? It’s not bad enough that you work with this person, you’re bringing him home in the car! The extra-smart ones of you reading this really know how to get back at a jerk. “I’ll show him. I’ll be miserable all night.” Bet you’re wrecking the jerk’s night. Yeah, right. Who’s the dope here?

When I say this in my talks, some people reply, “But you don’t know what he said to me.” I ask, “When did he say it?” They usually say something like, “Nine this morning.” I say, “It’s seven at night. Is this guy calling you up every half hour and saying it over and over again?” We love to hold onto our misery. But don’t feel bad. It’s a very common practice. Look around the world. People are killing each other for stuff from hundreds of years ago.

Scott Sheperd in Who’s in Charge? Attacking the Stress Myth, (Highland City, FL: Rainbow Books, 2003), 53.

That is a common sense approach to handling stress. But what does the Bible say about it? The words anger and wrath are mentioned 230 and 197 times respectively in the New King James Version. Not all refer to personal relationships, but those that do are very instructive.

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32

Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. Colossians 3:12-13

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20

The Bible warns us that anger is destructive and often foolish. But even when anger is a right response, we who know Christ are instructed to give the situation over to God and humbly forgive those who have offended us. It is only then that we will have the peace that we desire. Will it be easy? No, it won’t always be easy, but we believe and know by experience that God’s ways are best. So, the next time you make the choice to take your anger home with you, remember how foolish that habit is, and replace it with God’s prescription for peace. Give it all to him.

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