Life Notes—July 18, 2013
“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret—it leads only to evil.” Psalm 37:8
Most of the time I am an even-tempered person. Of course I get annoyed when my computer takes longer than normal to start up. I do not appreciate when someone cuts me off in traffic. And yes, I can get downright mad when relatively petty annoyances begin to pile on top of each other. Sometimes my anger even overrides my self-control and words spew out of my mouth that would otherwise remain within. I am seldom proud of my outbursts of anger and am thankful they tend to be rare. I teach at a leadership institute one week out of the year and I tell the leaders-to-be that expressed anger should be a tool they use sparingly. While they should not allow themselves to be controlled by their anger, applied strategically and sparingly anger can be an effective teacher and motivator.
But the fifth of the seven deadly sins is not anger. It is wrath. Wrath is anger on steroids. It is also referred to as rage and manifests as uncontrollable, highly-charged emotional feelings of hatred and loathing. It can lead to violent behaviors directed towards one’s self or others. It can persist long after the presumed cause of the wrath is dead and gone. The key is that it is uncontrolled and/or wildly excessive; meaning appropriate control has been lost and any number of unfortunate or unintended consequences may result. Suicide is sometimes described as wrath turned inward.
In this series of essays on the Seven Deadly Sins I have defined sin as that which separates us from God. The Seven Deadly Sins are considered the primary, or the originating sins which lead to most other types of sin. These primary sins are identified as lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. While anger is a normal emotion everyone experiences to a greater or lesser extent and frequency, wrath takes anger to dangerous heights. Where anger tends to dissipate relatively quickly, wrath boils ever near the surface, ready to explode in an emotional and destructive eruption with little provocation. In a word, wrath leads to evil.
Wrath makes us unpleasant, unpredictable and sometimes dangerous to be around. As such, it separates us from and even destroys our relationships with others. Since we are called to be in relationship with others, it also separates us from God’s purposes for our lives. It makes us less useful as tools for God’s work on earth. And it makes us miserable as individuals. In the words of William Cullen Bryant, “And wrath has left its scar—that fire of hell has left its frightful scar upon my soul.”
Tom will be preaching downtown where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary. Mitch is preaching at the west campus where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.
Come home to church this Sunday.
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator