“It is not easily angered . . .” (1 Cor. 13:5)
Another way of saying this is to say that love is tolerant, not of sin, but tolerant in the matters that do not matter. Pastor James MacDonald of the radio show “Walk in the Word” says that on the majors love takes action, on the minors love accepts. Paul said:
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarrelling over disputable matters . . . let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” (Romans 14:1&13)
Paul also said in Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger do not sin” (NIV). The New Living Translation renders this as “Don’t sin by letting anger control you”. Be angry and do not sin. What does that really mean? Well, there are many possible applications. If you meditate on the scripture and ask God to show you what it means, He will. After my Sunday School class had discussed that passage one week, I began to wonder, “What does that really mean?” In case you don’t know, once you ask that question, God will begin to SHOW you the application in your own life. Here are a couple of scenarios. You are in traffic and someone cuts you off. It makes you angry. But frankly, any reaction other than to ignore and even show respect by giving the person room after she cuts in front of you is sin. Surprised? I was too. But I recognize truth when I see it. If I react in my anger, if I tailgate, if I flash my lights, if I lay on my horn to express my displeasure, I have sinned. Harsh? Maybe, but truth is still truth whether I like it or not. God demands holiness. Holiness (love) is patient and kind. (Galatians 5:22-23) It IS NOT prideful, and any reaction on my part, in anger, simply says I am angry because someone has wronged me (pride).
Here is another example. Let’s say your boss is a stickler for being on time and not conducting personal business on company time. You have been reprimanded for coming in two minutes late on one occasion, which you think is very unfair, yet your co-worker, when the boss is not around, consistently comes in late or constantly takes breaks and spends a lot of time on his phone, texting, or even on the Internet when no one is around to see. It makes you angry because you got in trouble for what you consider to be a minor offense, while others who try to see how much they can get away with are overlooked. Is it sin to be angry in this situation? I would say no. Unfair treatment, of yourself or others, is not right; however, anger in this case, on your own behalf, is a slippery slope that can easily cause you to sin in response to your anger. Let me explain. I am at my desk working. I have recently been reprimanded for a minor offense. My coworker has spent much of the day on his phone or on a break or doing absolutely nothing but staring at his computer screen! The longer this goes on, the angrier I get. I start to turn this over and over in my mind: someone needs to know how much time he wastes when no one is around; I am definitely going to say something to my supervisor about this behavior. Then I start to justify my considered course of action: my co-worker is costing the company money by wasting time; this behavior will cause others to slack off if they see someone else getting away with it, which is undermining the entire company! Wow. I have gone pretty far at this point, but it’s not too late for me to divert. Suddenly the Holy Spirit speaks to me. “What is your motivation?” And it always comes down to motivation. Is my motive pure, or is it self-serving? And I have time now to turn away before it is too late.
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (I Corinthians 10:13)
God, through the Holy Spirit, has provided me a way out before I sin. I have time now, and clarity in my spirit for the real issues and pitfalls of my considered action. I can turn away, resist the devil and the flesh, and mind my own business.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs.” (I Thessalonians 4:11)
Love is not easily angered, and Peter said that love covers a multitude of sins. Jesus has covered ALL of your sins. In fact, the bible says that they are “piled up to Heaven”. Can you not cover the sins of another in love?
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Yours in love and in Christ,
(To access the entire “Lessons in Love From 1 Corinthians 13” mini-series, please click here.)