"Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. Proverbs 23:23"
"Redeemed" by Big Daddy Weave
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
As part of our 2019 resolution to become more Christ-like, we continue our walk through Paul's inspired passage on love. Paul breaks down for us what Love does, just as Jesus models for us in his actions and teachings how love acts and reacts in the world. Today we meditate on the the bad habit of being irritable and resentful and how it gets in the way of love.
A little child was overhead praying, “Dear Lord, please make all the bad people good, and all the good people nice. Amen.”
Many of the habits that keep us from loving well Paul talks about are ordinary reactions we have. Many good people, God-loving people, decent people, have problems with irritability and resentment. Irritability especially raises its head if we are stressed. We get snappy, touchy, especially if we've over-scheduled our day, and our priorities have gotten out of control. Sometimes irritability can be a manifestation of depression, so it should be taken seriously and checked out. When we find ourselves getting grouchy, we need to stop - figure out what's happening. Give God the burden, or get help. That's how we manifest love for ourselves, and ultimately for others in our lives.
Another way irritability and resentments surface is when we may have "control" issues -- and find ourselves acting sharply in the face of delays, mistakes, accidents. We are resentful when we are faced with a perceived/or actual wrong -- and we can't let go of it. We perseverate over all the bad things done to us -- over the accomplishments of overs which should have been ours. Irritability and resentfulness are common as grass-- overgrown grass. We can't see pass our resentments to count our blessings. We are blind to for others who have it tougher than ourselves. We stop reaching out and lending a hand. If allowed to become patterns in our lives, we become spiritually anemic.
We all know people with whom it's hard to get along because their irritability or resentfulness casts a pall on the relationship. We have to walk around them on "tippy toe" as my grandmother use to say. In these situations we are called to not return resentment with resentment, or irritability with rudeness. Love asks us not to let our emotions control our actions, but to stop: pray, breathe so we can calm ourselves, and then respond with kindness and forbearance.
Remember the story of Nabal and Abigail and David in 1 Samuel 25? Nabal a wealthy man, living in Carmel, and under David's protection. He was a surly, abrasive man, while Abigail was kind-hearted and generous. When David sent word to Nabal for his tribute -- which was appropriate -- Nabal responded resentfully, rudely, raising David's ire. David was planning to kill Nabal and his household. Abigail got wind of the plan, and prepares a tribute for David and humbly approached David and pleaded for mercy. Touched by her graciousness, David withdraws his threat. Nabal, however, is holding a big feast (to which he has not invited David), and has a heart attack and dies. Nabal makes everyone's life miserable with his meanness and surliness. He puts their lives in danger by incurring David's wrath. Nabal, whose name means "fool," became a fool because of his grouchy resentful manner. His wealth didn't help matters -- it just became an excuse to treat others poorly. Abigail however, stands out as an example of "a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger Prov. 15:1." We need to learn from Abigail's ability to handle difficult people with grace -- and how we can act when under fire.
For this week in Lent let us be extra mindful of irritability and resentfulness. When we see in ourselves, let us immediately stop, let go and let God. If we see it in others, let us use it as an opportunity to practice gentleness and kindness.
PRAY: "O God, when irritability and resentfulness raise their heads, help me to stop, breathe and count my blessings, leaving all in your hands. Help me be kind and gracious like Abigail. "