Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Gentleness is a rare gem.

To put us at ease, Jesus says of Himself that He is gentle (Matthew 11:28):

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Prophet Isaiah wrote about Him (Isaiah 42:3):

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

Gentleness is paramount in dealing with the bruised, the broken, young and tender. Rudeness is able to kill those who are in this precarious position. However, we all could use a little gentleness. A kind word goes a long way!

After moving into our house, my husband Bill built a nice little home studio. We’ve started recording at the beginning of the year with the purpose to finish our Christmas album by October. The recording process can be arduous. Technology can be bitchy. Vocal cords don’t respond the same way on any given day. There are hang ups. There are road blocks. Working on this project together as a husband and wife team, it is important to be gentle. Yesterday, due to an oversight, previously recorded tracks disappeared and we had to rerecord. Bummer! It would have been impossible to do without patience. I guess patience and gentleness go hand in hand.

Speaking of gentleness in relationships – I don’t think it’s possible to be gentle with pent-up anger inside. Anger is usually a symptom that something is wrong. If the wrong of a situation remains the unaddressed elephant in the room it soon grows to be a monster. Like it or not, there is no true harmony without voicing our concerns. There is no true intimacy without addressing offense. We don’t need to bury simmering anger for long to see it reaching boiling temperatures. We know how misdirected anger blows up in our face with lots of collateral damage.

Thankfully, there’s constructive anger. When we see dog poop on the floor, we better eliminate it, or it will be carried all throughout the house and cause a lot of stink. I guess we all know what that means. Constructive anger does the house cleaning. We address the wrong and eliminate those emotional triggers that make it unsafe to be around. And removing those triggers ultimately paves the way to gentleness.

Let’s be honest – so we can be gentle.

Genesis 49:7: “Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel.”

Towards the end of the book of Genesis, Jacob, a dying man, calls his children for his last blessing. As he is addressing each of his sons individually, he puts Simeon and Levi on the spot with a harsh rebuke (Genesis 49:5):

“Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place.”

Jacob is referring to an incident that happened several years ago when they lived near the city of Shechem in Canaan. There he bought a parcel of land from the children of King Hamor. However, other than having trade agreements with the people of the land, Jacob’s tribe did not mingle much with the Canaanites. That changed overnight when the shocking news transpired that one of King Hamor’s sons, Prince Shechem, had raped Jacob’s daughter Dinah. In his defense, the prince later proposed to marry Dinah, but Jacob’s family still was deeply offended; and with Simeon and Levi as ringleaders, Jacob’s sons took revenge on him for the rape, not only by killing the offender Prince Shechem, but also by wiping out the entire male population of the area. On his deathbed Jacob stood up to his sons and distanced himself from such cruel behavior.

Speaking of cruelty, what about God’s violent temper? Wasn’t it devastating when He initiated the Big Flood wiping out most of mankind and killing an enormous amount of land animals? Reading up on what God Himself has to say about His wrath, we find a statement in the book of Exodus (Exodus 22:24):

“And my wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.”

That’s shocking to hear of course, but let’s check out what triggered this remark. Interestingly, the preceding verses say (Exodus 22:22-23):

“You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry out to Me, I will surely hear their cry;”

Apparently, a major trigger stirring up God’s wrath is abusing the helpless. If we trample on the weak we are stepping on God’s toes! He is THE defender of the poor, the lonely, those who struggle to make ends meet. We cross the line when we disrespect them, and we will trigger God’s wrath when we abuse them.

Compare this to what triggers human anger, and we often see hurt pride combined with a lack of interest in people. Nobody really had Dinah’s best interest at heart when Jacob’s sons took revenge. In their arrogance they destroyed all prospects of a good future for her, not to mention the bereaved families who lost their providers in this senseless murder.

Looking at these two scenarios it quickly becomes clear that human anger has little in common with God’s anger. The former is usually an expression of our selfishness; the latter is God’s way of defending those who cannot defend themselves.

When God’s love spells w-r-a-t-h, we know that He intervenes. He intervenes to protect, to save, and to restore. So, even when the world seems to fall apart, let’s not forget to look up! We find a safe place in His arms if we’re on His side.

“In the eye of the storm
You remain in control
And in the middle of the war
You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor
When my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me
In the eye of the storm”
                       Ryan Stevenson

Isaiah 2: 5: “Come, house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord!”

What does “Walking in the light” mean? Answers to this question range from doing what is right at any time, especially when no one is looking, to following the example of Christ. Does this mean we are supposed to be nice? Is God nice? And what about God’s Son – Was Jesus a nice guy when He cleared the Jerusalem temple and kicked the money changers out?

I believe there is a reason why the Bible doesn’t state that God is nice, but instead emphatically reiterates that God is love. In fact, when I conducted a search on the word “nice” in all 66 books of the Bible, only one verse came up, namely in the book of Jeremiah, where it says (Jeremiah 12:6):

“For even your brothers – your father’s house – even they will betray you, even they will shout out after you. Have no confidence in them, even if they say nice words to you.”

Obviously, the Bible does not seem to have very much to say about being nice – but what about love? Conducting a search on the word “love” in all 66 books of the Bible, I came up with a whopping 588 search results.  588 to 1 – love definitely wins!

So if we walk in love we definitely walk in the light. Does that mean we walk on pink clouds all day? Actually, the opposite is true, and we know it. Parents raising children know it. People engaged in relationships know it. Love’s spectrum is wide. There’s easy love, tough love, jealous love, just to name a few.

I would venture to say that love shows its true colors when challenged. If you had a nice-looking car without an engine, wouldn’t you like to get rid of it? It’s the engine that keeps the motor running. Similarly it’s passion that keeps our love going. And since we all come from God, let’s look at the originator of love, God Himself, and we will notice that His love is multifaceted and expressed with a lot of passion. In the book of Exodus we read about a jealous God (Exodus 34:14):

For you are to bow down to no other god, because Adonai is jealous for His Name—He is a jealous God.

If we see a friend habitually promoting his firstborn while overlooking what his other kids bring to the table, then we understand their jealousy. Jealousy is an indicator that there’s preferential treatment going on, and preferential treatment is not OK. If the children of said friend didn’t care about their parents, then they wouldn’t be jealous and continuously fight for their attention. Jealousy is a hot burning flame that can undermine and destroy relationships, but it is a derivative of love. So from this vantage point it makes sense that God gets jealous if we overlook Him all the time and give our full attention to something or someone else. If we didn’t matter to Him He wouldn’t be jealous. His jealousy is His declaration of love to us.

Prophet Isaiah wrote about God’s anger (Isaiah 57:17):

“Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry; I struck him; I hid My face; I was angry—but he went on backsliding in the way of his heart.”

Anger could be an indicator that there’s abuse and injustice going on. If abuse and injustice happens right before our very eyes we should get angry. While anger is mostly known as violent and destructive, it can also be constructive and promote positive change. It’s passion for freedom that ignited civil war in the United States. Without going into details, we still need a lot of anger to eliminate all kinds of slavery on this planet. And this is why God gets angry. His anger might have a bad reputation, but look at the results. We’re still here. God’s anger initiates change and brings about a new beginning. A cardinal example was the new beginning after the big flood.

Since God loves full spectrum, let’s embrace this kind of love and do the same! Let’s be involved, interested, and passionate as we go about our business today.

“When He rolls up His sleeves He ain’t just putting on the Ritz

There’s thunder in His footsteps and lightning in His fists

And the Lord wasn’t joking when He kicked them out of Eden

It wasn’t for no reason that He shed His blood

His return is very close and so you better be believing that our God is an awesome God”

(Rich Mullins)