Anger is a state of being annoyed or frustrated by something or someone. Joy in contrast is a sense of peace and calm we experience. If you sit and think about your day in general how much would you say is spent in anger and how much of that in a general space of calmness?
I cannot answer that question for you but in my own situation I realised a couple of months ago that I do not necessarily experience anger the whole time, but what was concerning was that a large part of my day I would have a general sense of irritation with many people and things around me:
- People that do not do their work as they are supposed to
- Long queues that seem to take forever
- People driving slow, or not following the rules of the road
- Kids that drive you nuts so that you feel like you can climb a wall without any aid
- Things that are just not done fast enough or to the quality that you expect
The Scripture passage that really brought this issue to the fore for me is found in Ephesians 4:1-3.
“…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (NIV)
In short if we want to take Christianity serious we need to start functioning on a totally different level than what is currently happening more and more in the world and society around us. Our calling is that of complete humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another and peace throughout our day, in everything we do and whatever situation we may find ourselves.
On the morning I read this passage it really struck me that this is the difference you see in people that have walked the road with God for a quite a while vs the rest of us that are either still searching or in the early growing-up phase of our transformation process. The mature Christian is the one that live and function within this world, but do not allow the general rush, impatience and unkindness to take hold of him/her.
Here is the problem. With everything happening around us that just encourages this sense of anger, it is really almost impossible to make such a change in your life on your own. Two things need to happen to have success.
Firstly is the realisation that you are not going to be able to make this change by yourself, not matter how badly you want it. Dependence on the Holy Spirit is the only way to succeed and this means to pray daily for that peace and joy and to ask God to help you transform.
Secondly we need to learn to focus and consciously make choices throughout the day.
- Can I change this situation with my anger? If not, maybe I must just force myself to be patient and see it through.
- Is the person I am frustrated, or angry at even aware of my irritation? If not, this anger is only affecting me emotionally and no-one else.
- We all make mistakes sometimes, is this situation not just maybe one of those?
- If I give this person in front of me a smile (I may not even know them) will it maybe change his day for the better? Remember, smiling does settle your own emotions as well.
I have now been on this road for the last couple of months and some days are better than others, but when I get it right to intentionally choose peace and joy I can literally see the difference around me. My day seem to slow down a bit and it is amazing to see what an innocent smile can do to others.
Don’t let this world and all its problems get you under. Keep your hope and faith in God and shine your little light so that you can live your life in a way that is worthy of your calling.