Friday, April 19, 2013

Be Perturbed

Let me paint you a picture:

A long time ago there lived a man, a great man that was known to most as a peacemaker.  He was known for loving - and not just those he was closest to, he also loved those that many others refused to love for one reason or another.  He had this presence that drew people in, calmed their hearts and minds...

One day, he stumbled across a group of people that were not doing what they were supposed to do, they were doing the wrong thing.  And this peacemaker, he became very angry, so angry that he made a whip and overturned tables, driving people away from the area.

If you haven't caught on yet, this man was Christ.  Christ got angry!

I feel like there is an overwhelming sense in Christian society today that we aren't allowed to be angry.  And if we are, well, then we need to be quiet about it.  Heaven forbid we make a scene.  But that is exactly what Christ did!  He was so passionate about the misuse of God's temple that He got angry and He didn't stay quiet about it - He made a scene, He made His point.

And my point is...we are allowed to be angry!

Psalm 4:4-5
4 Tremble, and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.
5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And trust in the Lord. 

In order for this to make sense, it is very important to note that 'tremble' is translated from the Hebrew word ragaz meaning "tremble, quake, rage, quiver, be agitated, be excited, be perturbed" (Strong's H7264).  While a few scholars define tremble in these verses to mean 'fear,' I agree with Adam Clarke in that, keeping with the Hebrew definition, 'tremble' here is much closer to our idea of anger.

We can easily translate this as "Be angry and do not sin" or "Be perturbed and do not sin" or even "Rage and do not sin."  Yeah, I know, that sounds nice.  But isn't it much easier said than done?  Well, thankfully, David has given us some advice on how to be angry yet remain from sin.

First he says to meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still.  Wesley puts it this way: "when you are at leisure from distracting business...consider these things."  In other words, really think before you act.  The word 'meditate' comes from the Hebrew 'amar meaning "to say, speak, utter" (Strong's H559).  Simply put: speak with your heart!  Sometimes we overreact before we've really had time to reflect on what happened.  
I also believe that this is why "upon your bed" is mentioned.  Time.  Time ensures that you will not sin.  Have you ever gone to bed livid about something only to wake up wondering what the big deal was in the first place?  A good night's rest and a little time may shed new light on the subject and can most certainly keep you from sinning.
Next, David notes, offer the sacrifices of righteousness.  We must make sure that we are righteous, that our hearts are not amiss and that they are in the right place.  It is not enough to cease doing evil, we must also learn to do good (Henry).  We must also remember that "no sacrifice - no performance of religious duty, will avail any man, if his heart be not right with God" (Clarke).  So even if you do not sin in your anger, it means nothing if your heart is not in the right place.


Lastly, David reminds us that we must always trust in the Lord.  But what does it mean to trust?  Interestingly, "Trust is the characteristic [Old Testament] word for the [New Testament] 'faith,' believe.'  It...is the rendering of Hebrew words signifying to take refuge" (Scofield). We must have faith in the Lord, take refuge in His arms.  Ultimately, He will bring justice to this world.  Our anger may burn for a night but his justice will prevail in the morning!  If we do not sin in our anger, we can rest assured that justice will come.  We need only to have faith, to trust God.  It isn't so hard as it sounds, after all...."How can you trust God for salvation and not anything else?" (Todd Theissen, pastor of Summit Church in Norman, OK).

In a world where many people are misusing God's temple and disregarding His existence...it is incredibly easy to become angry! Just remember these words: "The next time you want to spit at a parade of gays marching with banners, you are actually spitting at Jesus.  If you berate a woman walking into an abortion clinic, you're berating Jesus.  This isn't to say you can't speak the truth, but don't let your righteous anger compel you to unrighteous behavior" (Thor Ramsey, A Comedian's Guide to Theology).

Today the challenge is simple: think before you act.

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