You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
“You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. . . .”
Paul had never been to Colossae. He didn’t actually know these Colossians, but he knew Jesus. And he knew that when Jesus enters a person’s life, everything changes.
We all have a “life [we] once lived.” We all “used to walk in these ways.” It’s good, from time to time, to take stock of the change in our lives. What are the ways you used to walk in the “life you once lived”? How would you describe the ways you walk in today?
OK, I’ll go first. I used to be a really angry person. You would have never known it because I spent a lot of energy keeping it at bay. Only the people closest to me would have had a sense of my anger. And the crazy thing about anger is you aren’t really angry about what you are angry about. You know what I’m talking about?
Anger is a normal human emotion—until it takes root in your inmost self. Then it becomes like malignant cancer. Anger unbridled becomes rage. Anger imprisoned within becomes depression. It can be really complex, but the primary source of anger is pain. You don’t get rid of anger by trying to not be angry. You have to deal with your pain. Anger is pain’s wounded ambassador.
What does it look like to rid ourselves of our particular sin propensities? My journey toward ridding myself of anger was long and complex, but I think there may be a general pattern and progression that can be helpful for other issues.
First, and for the longest time, I was unaware of my anger issues. Somewhere along the way, by the grace of God (and a little help from my friends—also the grace of God), I became self-aware. Then, because I began to understand how my anger was hurting others, I started to care. I realized how powerless I was against this volcanic force within me. As noted, trying harder to not be angry did not work. It made me angrier. At that point I began to pull out my hair (not literally) and swear (see also “filthy language” from the list above). Are you feeling my rhyme scheme yet?
Throughout this process I was meeting regularly with a few trusted friends who were listening and praying with me. I sought the help of a counselor, who helped me identify and delve into the deeper sources of my pain, which led me into a process of forgiveness. Further, this led me to work with a pastor friend of mine who led me through a process of deliverance prayer. (Catch that rhyme?)
All of this brings me to the final rhyme in the scheme of this journey of riddance—share. God shared his nature with me, which is love. From beginning to end it was the love of God that delivered me from anger, and when anger is touched by love, it becomes love. Anger management, like any other form of sin management, will never get it done.
So, there you have it—the life I once lived—from unaware to self-aware to beginning to care to pulling out my hair to the temptation to swear to healing prayer to God’s decision to share. We want it to be so much simpler and quicker, and sometimes it is. The cross always has a will of its own, and it is always for God’s glory and our good.
Do I ever get angry anymore? Of course. Like everyone else, I have anger. Anger just doesn’t have me anymore.
Riddance. It’s a good name for Domino #3|8.
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who not only shows us the way of the cross but who walks every step of the way with us. Open my eyes to the sin I am unaware of, and lead me on the grace-filled journey of riddance, for your glory and my good. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
- How about you? Can you articulate the life you once lived and the ways particular sins defined your walk?
- How did the process of riddance go for you? How do you relate to the pattern I outlined?
- Is there a sin pattern or even a besetting sin you would like to move into a full-fledged riddance process? What is holding you back?
For the Awakening,
JD, once again I find it ironic how often these posts of yours really hit close to home. I can definitely identify with the subject of anger and how it can remain hidden just under the surface until triggered. I’m also aware of the hidden spiritual oppression factor involved with this. Praise God, that He puts folks in our lives to help uncover what often stirrers us up without our realizing it. I’m not yet where I want to be, but it encourages me to know I’m not alone in my struggles with anger. Thank you for sharing your testimony.
God has recently revealed how essential it is to be deeply plugged into a community of faith. Being able to share personal obstacles that militate against a healthy growing relationship with God, and then seeking prayer is essential if we are to become the person we were created to be. It really does boil down to repentance and forgiveness.
Wrongful behaviors, thoughts, feelings and desires are like the mighty current in a river. We don’t know how strong our corruption is as long as we are flowing cooperatively along with it, but when we sincerely try to resist it, we realize that it has us trapped. We don’t know how hard it is to be good until we try to fully overcome our bad behaviors, thoughts, desires, and feelings and no longer compromise with them. To rid ourselves of such things requires both resistance (“Resist the devil and he will flee from you”) and intimacy with the living God (“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”) Sometimes when we desperately cry out to God for freedom, He will suddenly deliver us in a moment, but often it requires much time and struggle as we die to ourselves and learn to submit to His will rather than to the desires that control us. The persistent struggle against sin can bring us to the blessedness of being broken and poor in spirit. Then when the deliverance finally comes, we’re deeply and forever grateful to Jesus.