No Cantankerous Christians Needed
Friday - July 3rd Scripture to Read for Today's Devotional: 2 Timothy 2:23-24
Today's Selection from our Sermon on the Mount Reading Plan: Matthew 7:13-20
Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments,
because you know they produce quarrels.
2 Timothy 2:23
"No grow, grow, Jonathan!" Our three-year-old daughter Katie shouted this at her 5-year-old big brother. She then smacked him across the face with her open hand. Jonathan was stunned. His mouth dropped open, and silently he looked first at Lesli and then me. After the first 5-10 seconds of shock, Jonathan let out a huge cry. He wailed away with the red handprint of his little sister on his cheek. Jonathan was not only shocked by her sudden anger unleashed on him, but by the setting in which it happened.
The timing of that outburst by Katie came just as the kids had put on their pajamas for bed, and we were in the middle of our brief time reading a children's Bible story, singing a few songs, and praying. We had read the story. I had just asked the kids what we should sing.
Jonathan called out our family version of a song title the kids loved to sing. He had eagerly responded to my request for a song to sing with, "Grow, Grow!" The song talks about how reading your Bible and praying every day will help you grow in Jesus. Katie thought the song was a bit overused lately during our bedtime rituals. So much so, she decided to take five or six steps toward her brother, yell, "No grow, grow, Jonathan," smack him across the face, and sit back down, ready to give her own song suggestion.
After we reprimanded Katie and calmed Jonathan, we were able to finish our time together. Katie had been in a mood that day. She had been looking for a fight. She seemed eager to quarrel with someone. Jonathan just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. She had been angry and cantankerous since she got out of bed that morning.
One of the forms of anger that often hurts those we love the most is being cantankerous. Anger often emerges as this troubled, frustrated, agitated spirit we carry about until we find the right outlet or expression of it toward others. Unfortunately, the "others" that experience this type of anger from us are often those closest to us. They get the shocking burst of rage. They may have seen and sensed the simmering, cantankerous spirit we had carried, but they may not have seen themselves becoming the recipient of that agitation.
Maybe the anger you struggle to manage is that same kind of rage. You find yourself frustrated, on edge, ready to let someone have it more often than you really would like. It is so easy to get caught up in minor irritations and disagreements. They can become an excuse for our outbursts of anger. Paul shared with his young pastoral mentee, Timothy, how important it is that we who follow and seek to serve Christ guard our hearts against a quarrelsome spirit. He said, "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels" (2 Timothy 2:23).
How about you? Do you find yourself irritable or cantankerous often? Can you quickly start or be drawn into an argument about something frivolous or minor? Examine your attitude and disposition today. If you conclude that you are on edge—just waiting to argue with someone--acknowledge that and confess it to God. Memorize what Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:23. Let God speak into your life when that irritable and quarrelsome spirit begins to emerge. Ask Him to free you from the chains of that kind of argumentative attitude.
Jon's cheek no longer shows Katie's handprint. She has grown and would not even think about reacting that way to something Jon would say. But, all of us know just how easy it is to have such an outburst. We need to let the Holy Spirit lead us into living a peaceable and kind life.
As we pursue living and loving like Jesus, we need to make sure we are not cantankerous Christians.