Sorry if I sound a bit pessimistic…but I really must level with you and tell you that you just can’t do it. It’s impossible! You can’t get over the anger you may be feeling. You can’t act loving and kind to your children. You can’t be a good wife to your husband and you can’t even be a good person.
Do you know why I make such negative, blunt statements? Because we are all full of sin! We can try to do good and choose to do right most of the time, but even then we can become full of pride when we think that we have been strong enough to be good and be a nice person.
Isaiah 64:6 says: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” What?! Our good actions are like “filthy rags”? How can that be? It seems strange, but it’s very true.
I’ve been down this road before…I accepted Jesus into my heart a long time ago, but I’ve still felt somehow that I must strive and try with all my might to be good, so that God will be proud of me and I will be a good example for others. I think that’s why I’ve gone through many ups and downs emotionally over the years. When I’m acting right and being “good” I have felt good about myself and my faith. Then I became tired, or lazy, or selfish, and I didn’t act right or do the things I thought I should be doing, and I spiraled down, down, down in shame and despair. Usually, my mood didn’t change until I reached the point where I was willing to acknowledge that God was in control and I chose to trust and obey again. God has been working on this in my life over the years, gradually helping me to see the problem with my old way of doing it and the solution to such thought patterns. I think sometimes God allows us to see glimpses of certain principles, and we don’t see them clearly until God knows we’re ready to accept or act on the truth He gives.
Anyway, this past week as I was doing my devotions, I read I Corinthians 13 and lingered over verses 4-7. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hope, always perseveres.” I’ve always tried to develop that kind of love in my life in the past. I would do well for a while, and then feel terribly guilty when I blew it and “angered easily” at my kids or wasn’t kind or patient with my husband. As I read these verses this week, it suddenly dawned on me…I can’t do this! I really can’t! It seemed as if I suddenly realized that only Jesus can love others in this way – through me!
Through songs I’ve heard, books I’ve been reading, other verses in the Bible, God has been pointing out the need for me to die so that Christ can live through me. Galatians 2:20a – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Is this easy? No. Is this painful? Yes. Is this dying process worth it? Definitely.
If you are feeling anger toward your children, there are probably many different causes for that anger. (I talked about many of them in the article Why Do We Get So Angry?) Please remember, anger is a normal emotion and that feeling in itself is not sin. When we act in wrong ways because of that anger, we move into the area of sin and that’s what we need to deal with and turn from. This might hurt a bit (I hate to even admit it myself!) but I believe that basically we are dealing with selfishness when we act out in anger. We feel that emotion inside of us and we choose to let it escalate into rage or we justify it by dwelling on how overworked and underappreciated we are, and then we lash out at those around us.
The first step in “dying” is to make sure that Jesus is the Lord of your life. With Jesus in control, you don’t have to worry and try so hard! You just have to practice stepping aside and letting the Lord do His stuff. When you can’t see straight because you’re so mad at your kids, it’s time to remember that you can’t love them. You have tried to do it on your own again, and it just won’t work. Time to say, “Sorry Lord, I’ll let you have control again.” Sometimes you may have to leave the room until you know that you’ve “died” and can act in right ways again because Jesus is acting through you. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree [the cross], so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (I Peter 2:24)
I know all of this doesn’t come naturally, but when we develop this practice in our lives, we will become more and more mature. It seems like we will lose ourselves and be unhappy, but the truth is we will finally find freedom and happiness when we choose to die!
© Robyn Mulder 2000, therobynsnest.org