Anger got the best of me. The realization that we had been taken advantage of was an unpleasant feeling. Some workers had stopped by our house asking if we needed additional pine straw for our yard. And the truth of the matter was, we did. They agreed to install the pine straw for the price we typically paid for just the straw. Good deal, right? Wrong.
We made a crucial mistake. We didn't count the number of bales of pine straw they actually laid, and when it was time to pay the workers, the bill they handed us was outrageous. Having laid hundreds of bales of pine straw over the years, and seeing the trailer they were hauling, we knew there was no way they had installed the number of bales they claimed to have laid. But we had no way to prove it...
Hindsight is always 20/20. We tried to question the workers politely, giving them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they had made an honest mistake. But they stuck to their story that, yes indeed, they had laid 265 bales of pine straw in less than two hours. In fact, the man who was the head of the crew assured me that he could lay 100 bales of pine straw in one hour - no problem.
As the tales got taller, I could feel my pulse quicken. Did this man honestly think I believed him? I told him in no uncertain terms that I knew he had cheated us. By now, my emotions had kicked into high gear. All rational thinking out the window, I wanted this crew to know we were onto their charade.
In the midst of my tirade, I disregarded the fact that I wasn't living up to who I am in Christ. The reality that my unkind words were just as wrong as their lies, didn't even cross my mind. I have to admit that I wasn't seeing them as Christ does. People who needed to be pointed to the Savior. I was more concerned about the money we were losing.
I was ashamed of myself. When all was said and done, we ended up paying the outrageous bill and I apologized for my behavior. Did we get ripped off? Yes! Did we have a reason to be upset? Absolutely! But in spite of the injustice, I could have chosen to respond differently. God's Word is clear about the results of anger, "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God," (James 1:20; KJV).
Over and over, I'm reminded that God's way is to be slow to anger, "He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly," (Proverbs 14:29). Again, King Solomon writes, "A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife," (Proverbs 15:18).
I'm thankful for a God who is patient with me, and is described as, "...merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy," (Psalms 103:8). Although my tongue got the better of me in this particular situation, today I choose to submit myself to the Lord, allowing Him to renew my mind with His Word. The truth of the Proverbs rings clear, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue..." (Proverbs 18:21a). Today I choose life-giving words!
Do you struggle with anger? What will you do differently in order to be slow to anger?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your forgiveness when I fail. Help me to submit to Your Holy Spirit so I can speak words that draw others to You. When I'm focused on my 'rights,' remind me that life's not about me, but each encounter with others is an opportunity to point them to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.