Sunday, March 30, 2014

Principle 2: Hanging With Hotheads

Yesterday we began our study into the thirty principles Solomon laid out which he indicated as an indicator of our trust in God - if we live by these principles, then our foundation will be one of trust.  They also act as principles which will help to hold us accountable for our actions and attitudes.  Today, we explore the second in these principles - the company we keep.  As you may recall, we explored our attitude toward those who have "need" or "weakness" in their lives yesterday.  This attitude determines a great deal as it comes to how we interact within the "boundaries" of Christian love or not.  Today, it is the company we keep - those who we associate with the most - which we will explore.  Why is this important?  Wrong relationships are as dangerous as wind is to fire.  Pick the wrong ones to engage with and you will find your world set on fire, but not a fire you can control!

Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads.

Bad temper is contagious—don’t get infected.  (Proverbs 22:24-25 MSG)

Angry people make life miserable for others, don't they?  Did you ever stop to consider just how miserable they must be?  Anger is an emotion with overwhelming potential to destroy both in word and deed.  Words spoken in haste, without forethought, aimed at hurting another will leave lasting scars many times.  Words just spoken in a rage of anger, not really aimed at anyone, but spoken nonetheless have just as much potential to leave scars because we never know who will latch onto them and take them as a "truth" they will hold onto about themselves, their work, or their abilities.  The emotion of anger is more than a simple "feeling" - it usually comes with some type of outburst, or vindictive twist.  As such, it is not always measurable, nor is it quickly identified before it has a chance to affect those in its path.

Bad temper is contagious.  If you have ever been around testy people, you might have recognized how easily you were caught up into the "testy" attitude.  At first, it was probably just because it made you a little uneasy to be around them, but in time, it is likely to be as a result of you agreeing more and more with the things which make them "testy" in the first place.  Bad attitudes have a tendency to rub off onto others - infecting them with their poison.  This is the reason Solomon warns us to avoid hanging out (keeping regular company) with those who have this issue with anger and the resulting outbursts.  

Anger turns us inward, but it directs its "flow" outward.  Anger is often a result of perceiving your rights have been violated - someone has not respected your space, they've invaded your "territory", so to speak.  It might be in the realm of not respecting your need for privacy, personal time, or even something as simple as eating the last brownie you were counting on for a midnight snack.  In turn, you begin to feel like people take you for granted - not appreciating you.  You have turned inward - it is all about you.  In time, you might even begin to express this feeling of being taken for granted in short jabs toward another, rehearsing the times they have done you wrong, and even taking shots with sarcasm.  Little by little, you begin to nurse your feelings of being wronged.  In time, these feelings (validated by your own rehearsal of events) take on a life of their own - expressed often in outbursts (turning outward).

God never instructs us to turn inward, does he?  In fact, if we explore scripture, we find repeated instructions to consider the other person first, to serve without ceasing, and to lay our lives down for another.  These are not actions of "inward" people.  These are actions of those who live by the strength of Christ who lives within them.  The company we keep matters - mothers everywhere for generations untold have been trying to convey this message to their children.  Don't hang out with the wrong crowd - they will corrupt good morals!  Remember mom or dad saying anything even remotely close to that?  They were preaching scripture!  You just didn't know it.  Anger has so much volatility associated with it, so it becomes a destructive emotion almost without warning.  Associating with those who are given to such volatility is dangerous ground to trod.  If you don't end up injured yourself, you will eventually become what you associate with!  Then you will be the one so inwardly focused that all your outward actions are harsh, brutally unkind, and just plain miserable to be around.

Emotions are real - we cannot deny them.  We do need to "hang with" those who will help us to reveal our emotions in reasonable, upright, and consistent ways.  Who we choose as our closest relationships - those we "frequent" most often will go a long way in helping us develop reasonableness in our emotions.  Hotheads beware!  Your end will be to drive those away who may have the greatest potential to change your life.  Just sayin! 

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