Daily D – Matthew 5:21-22
Matthew 5:21, 22 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (NIV)
One of the most important lessons in life is knowing when to stop. This is true for sermonizers and drama queens. This is true for online shoppers and offline vacationers.
Without the emotional muscle to stop ourselves, we tend to overindulge in arguments and desserts, donuts and angry outbursts.
A simple, powerful tool employed against anger and other emotional reactions has proven itself helpful to many. How simple? As simple as a 3 x 5 index card. Take one of these cards and write on it in large block letters one of the most powerful four-letter words of all, STOP.
Place that card in your shirt pocket or somewhere else you can easily retrieve it. Place it on the dashboard of your car if you have a tendency to get ticked off at certain drivers. If you do not get irritated at certain drivers, STOP being such a pansy.
I probably should have stopped before writing the last sentence. Please forgive me. We will call it “an illustration.” How’s that?
The powerful idea of this simple tool is found in how it arrests our attention and refocuses our thought processes. This interruption to our stream of consciousness provides a way of escape from the unhealthy, unwholesome, unkind responses that turn simple arguments into emotional dramas.
I learned to use this tool thirty years ago. Jesus taught something like it two thousand years ago. King Solomon was right. There is nothing new under the sun.
How does anger most affect you? Are you a shouter or a seether? Are you a puncher or an isolationist? Whatever your chronic reactionary style, STOP it. STOP it before you say something you will regret now and forever. STOP it before you create emotional distance or endless separation. STOP it before it becomes something dangerous, deadly even.
If your index cards have lines on one side, flip it over to the blank back side and write STOP. On the lined side, write these two verses. Let them remind you of how much you lose when you do not STOP in time.
How easy is this? Maybe not easy at all, but it might just change your life.
I will STOP one moment too soon rather than one moment too late.
Our Father, please guard my mind and my mouth. Empower me to STOP before I take one more step down a path leading toward anger, hurt, or dissolution. Amen.
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Psalm 139:17, 18 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.