31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
We live our days inundated with countless choices from the big to the small: whether or not to check in with a friend, whether we should go with the black shoes or the blue, whether to have one more cookie. Choices, choices, choices: most of the time, we don’t even realize that we’re making choices. We like to think of our choices as being just one or the other, right and wrong, black and white – but that’s not really our reality. We actually spend most of our day navigating through various hues of grey, trying (hopefully) to pick the choice hue that creates the least amount of harm to the self and/or others.
We don’t always succeed. Often harm comes from our decisions that we did not intend and maybe even could have avoided. Maybe someone’s feelings were hurt by the way we phrased something or perhaps we could have listened better to someone who was asking to be heard. Perhaps, we reacted when we didn’t have to. We were confronted with something that triggered something inside us, and instead of noting that and putting it aside, we allowed it to erupt. That anger, bitterness, and wrath that builds in us, if not tempered, can be used to say hurtful things and act in ways that would embarrass us later. And for what? What problems have been solved by this?
Like the scripture teaches us, it is important for us to practice being self-aware enough where we can put aside that anger that bubbles up and replace it with a kind, compassionate, forgiving, listening. That is not always an easy choice, but it’s the right one.
By Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
Can you identify something that immediately makes you tense or anger? What is the root of that? Perhaps something from your past. What would it look like for you to put it aside for compassion?
Prayer: God of kindness, you in your mercy gifted us with the capability of choice-making. Forgive us for when we haven’t always lived up to the responsibility that comes with that gift. We give thanks for your abundant forgiveness. Amen.