SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2013.
ANOTHER SEASON OF LENT
‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behaviour. Instead, be kind to each other, tender hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.’ Eph. 4:31, 32.
Christians all over the world are in again for another season of Lent. The Lenten period started with Ash Wednesday service that was held last Wednesday in different church denominations that observe the Lenten season. At this time, believers are encouraged to deal with any atom of sin that may compromise their faith. Truly, God expects so much from us and consequent upon that His children are not to fail Him no matter where they find themselves throughout this time.
Interestingly, as we read through the Bible, it does not tell us that we should not feel angry, but it points out that it is important to handle our anger properly. If vented thoughtlessly, anger can hurt others and destroy relationships. If bottled up inside, it can cause us to become bitter and destroy us from within. Paul tells us to deal with our anger immediately in a way that builds relationships rather than destroy them. If we nurse our anger, we will give the devil an opportunity to divide us. Are you angry with someone right now? What can you do to resolve your differences? Do not let the day end before you begin to work on mending your relationship.
Let it be noted that we can bring sorrow at this time to the Holy Spirit by the way we live or conduct ourselves. Paul warns us against unwholesome language, bitterness, improper use of anger, harsh words, slander, and bad attitudes toward others. Sometimes, it is sad that the people we love the most are often the target of our hurtful words. But even when we feel we have been provoked, we have a choice. Will we respond in anger or in kindness? If we respond wrongly, it can leave emotional devastation and bitter feelings behind. Instead of acting that way, we should be forgiving, just as God has forgiven us. Are you bringing sorrow or pleasing God with your attitudes and actions? Act in love toward your brothers and sisters in Christ, just as God acted in love by sending His Son to die for our sins (Eph. 4:32).`
This is Christ’s law of forgiveness as taught in the Gospels (Matthew 6:14, 15; 18:35; Mark 11:25). We also see it in the Lord’s Prayer – ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us’ (Luke 11:4). God forgives us, not because we forgive others, but solely because of His great mercy. As we come to understand His mercy, however, we will want to be like Him. Having received forgiveness, we will pass it on to others. Those who are unwilling to forgive have not become one with Christ, who was willing to forgive even those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34). This season of Lent is a great time to put into practice what we profess.
Therefore, if you are struggling with chronic anger that is hurting your relationships, surrender this vulnerable part of your emotions to Christ’s strength (Phil. 4:13). Ask God to forgive you for an uncontrolled temper and to show you how to moderate your emotions and to teach you how to honour others above yourself (Rom. 12:10). Remember, ‘an angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression’ Prov. 29:22. And so, seek out help from others to learn how to deal with your strong emotions in appropriate ways.
Our prayer throughout this time should be: Spirit of God, please change my heart, and give me a new desire; I want to be a man of peace, not controlled by anger’s fire, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.