Read His Words Before Ours!
“Is it just me, or is it loud in here?”
I find myself saying this when my students’ noise is louder than usual.
But sometimes, it really is just me.
“I can’t believe he did that!”
“I can’t believe she said that!”
I’ve heard myself say this too.
Maybe my feelings were hurt by another’s actions, but sometimes, if I’m honest, I’m looking for a reason to be upset.
Irritations, annoyances, and hurtful actions are often found staring us in the face. Maybe they show up as a family member pushes our buttons. Or perhaps it’s a constantly nagging voice, seemingly relentless to attack you.
But the Lord’s voice rises above them, “Love is not irritable or resentful”.
His is a precious voice to me because I know I’ve lived in the land of Irritable and Resentful.
I took up residency there for several years.
Looking back, I was a grouch with a sour disposition.
Anything could set me off.
I could “hold it” until I was alone, but catch me at a bad time, and you might get an earful.
The Lord’s voice whispered this passage, and my heart knew I needed His truth to move me out of Irritable and Resentful.
Other translations say, “Love is not easily provoked” or “Love is not easily angered.”
That isn’t to say we don’t have hurt feelings, however, it’s a call to consider our response to those feelings. How quickly do we pick up anger, harsh tones, or sharp words?
I know I’ve regretted my harsh choices; Moses did too.
In Numbers 20:2-13, Moses was a little, well, maybe a lot, irritated.
The people were fighting and complaining (again). There was no water in Maribah.
God, their constant Provider, instructed Moses to speak to the rock and water would come.
But Moses didn’t choose his response well and gave his feelings full reign.
Instead of speaking to the rock, Moses hit it with his staff, choosing his way over the Lord’s.
We may say it wasn’t Moses’ fault, it was the Israelites’ complaining.
But the Israelites didn’t hit the rock, Moses did.
Moses had a choice.
And he chose to live and act from the land of Irritated and Resentful.
When it comes to resentment, other translations say,
“Thinks no evil”, “Does not hold a grudge”, or “Keeps no record of wrong”.
What does this look like in real life?
Do you dwell on the hurt that happened, repeating every detail over and over until YOU have decided what the other person was thinking/saying/doing?
It’s easy to find fault, judge from our perspective, and look for the bad.
So was Esau.
Genesis 27 tells the story of Esau and his grudge towards Jacob for stealing his Birthright and tricking him out of his Blessing. A birthright, usually given to the firstborn son, is our modern-day family inheritance. A blessing could be given to any son, but the oldest, holder of the birthright, usually received a greater blessing.
Jacob, the younger son, had finagled his way to win both of these.
Esau despised his brother for stealing what was intended for him.
Esau held onto resentment, had evil thoughts toward Jacob, and nurtured hatred towards his brother with a desire to kill him. Justified or not, Esau chose to live in the land of Irritable and Resentful for much of his life.
I Corinthians 13:1-3 beautifully defines love, but it also provides a definition of the opposite of love by replacing “love” with “irritable and resentful”.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, and am irritable and resentful,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and I have all faith,
so as to remove mountains, but I am irritable and resentful, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but I am irritable and resentful,
I gain nothing.”
Ouch, when I read it like that, it makes me want to love others better!
Both irritation and resentment grow over time. When someone says or does something a little irritating or a little hurtful, we might easily let it go.
But if the offense repeats again and again, it becomes easier to dwell on it for longer periods.
We might even gossip about it.
Before we know it, we get snappy and mad.
Like Esau and Moses, when we allow resentment and irritation to grow, it becomes easy to let our feelings control our actions.
Love is the opposite of allowing life’s irritations and hurts to control our lives.
Love calls us out of the land of Irritable and Resentful.
Hannah had good reason to be irritated as someone in her life constantly provoked her. (I Samuel 1:6)
The Lord calls out, “Love is not easily irritated….love is patient.”
While our insides may scream frustration, Hannah modeled an example for us we can all learn from.
She prayed in the middle of her distress. (1 Samuel 1:10)
Joseph had every reason to hold a grudge as his brothers hated him, plotting to kill him. (Genesis 37:18-20) Eventually, as God moved in Joseph’s life, Joseph chose forgiveness for his brothers instead of retaliation. God’s love changed Joseph because His love doesn’t live in the land of Irritable and Resentful. If God’s love lived there, none of us could stand before Him as we have all sinned against Him!
God calls us to love just as He loves when He laid down His life for us, even while we were His enemies.
His love abides in the land of Gentle, Kind, and Good.
His love forgives, even in the face of irritation.
His love intentionally chooses un-annoyed.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!