Saturday, July 14, 2018

The boiling point

The truth of the matter is that it is a continual challenge to both listen carefully to the wisdom being laid out in scripture and then to take it to heart - to allow it to affect our actions. The scripture often gifts us with "sterling principles" by which to live - more than advice to be considered, but rather principles by which our lives become principled. These are tested guidelines to live by - guidelines that will hold us accountable in our daily walk and will help our walk to be marked by consistency. One such principle is to make wise choices about those you walk with on this journey.

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)

This is a pretty stern warning to avoid hanging out with the wrong company - angry people and hotheads. This isn't just a suggestion - it is a command - DON'T do it! Angry people are generally miserable people to be around, just in case you didn't already find that out. Their entire disposition emanates their often intense inward desire to respond to all life brings them with outbursts of violent and injuring behaviors. Hotheads definitely don't think before they respond - they simply allow the emotions to guide their responses and as a result, they leave a mess in their path time and time again.

Angry people and hotheads both present a major challenge in relationships. Being around someone who is given to constantly becoming exasperated, expressing that exasperation in violent outbursts, is totally exhausting and oftentimes very demeaning. You find yourself constantly on-guard, just waiting to "duck" out of the path of their fury - hoping they will miss a 'direct strike' this time. These individuals have no idea the wake of injury they leave in their path. They are often clueless to their own harmful actions. The warning is to avoid them completely - don't keep company with them. Why? Their emotional state has a way of being contagious! There is an infectious quality about their behavior that 'rubs off' on others around them. The thing you see so often with these individuals is there attitude or behavior of having a complaining and bitter heart. In turn, they either drive others away, or draw those in who want to commiserate with them in their misery - allowing or encouraging others to become equally as bitter and angry.

Why is that God warns us against keeping company with these individuals? Since their behavior is based on the perception that they have suffered some injustice, perhaps that have been treated in a wrong manner, or have an injury resulting from some action taken by another, there is a tendency to also become quite "satisfied" in the blaming of another (justifying) for their actions or response of an angry outburst in response to those actions. God wants us to be accountable for our OWN actions - there is no place for the shifting of blame to another. We are what we are, we are where we are, because of how we have behaved, the values we have embraced, and perhaps even the compromises we have embraced. No one "made us" like we are - the angry and hotheaded person does not believe that - he sees another as 'at fault'. The old time comedian Flip Wilson used to have a saying, "The devil MADE me do it." The truth is, no one "makes us" do anything. All the "doing" stems from within.

God wants impassioned people - but he wants our passion to be expressed in ways that bring honor and glory to him, in turn, bringing evidence of his glory in our lives for others to see. Guard against associating with those who damage the view of God's glory in your life and you will find that your life runs a whole lot smoother! Just sayin!