Something has been infecting us lately, and it isn’t COVID-19. It’s been around for much longer and has led to more death and destruction than even an epidemic. You can’t mask against it, and there is no tangible medical solution for it.
To make it appear, you just need to read or hear the right word or two: vaccine, government, Democrat, Republican, social justice. Do you feel that? The disease is anger.
This disease is spreading far and fast, on every news channel, in casual conversations, everywhere and anywhere we can think of, maybe even inside your church. Anger on any side of any hot topic is infecting us. We have the disease, and we’ve been infected. I dare say we may even be possessed. The enemy is succeeding.
Listen to this:
“When a man professes to be sanctified, and yet in words and works may be represented by the impure fountain sending forth its bitter waters, we may safely say, That man is deceived. He needs to learn the very alphabet of what constitutes the life of a Christian. Some who profess to be servants of Christ have so long cherished the demon of unkindness that they seem to love the unhallowed element and to take pleasure in speaking words that displease and irritate.”*
Today, Christians are more callous toward one another and to non-Christians than I believe God is pleased with. How did we become this way? Matthew 13 alerts us that, indeed, the enemy has planted something in us. Where there is supposed to be something good, instead something bad is growing up. This isn’t the way Jesus exemplified that we should live.
How to Defeat Unkindness
What can we do to fight this disease of anger, the demon of unkindness? James, chapter 1, in the Bible has the answer. The essence of the first part of the chapter is that we are gaining positive things when we face trials. In part, this means that properly dealing with issues when they come helps us to be ready for more significant problems when they present themselves later. If we aren’t faring so well with this trial of anger, perhaps we missed something beforehand. However, fear not. We should not be without hope.
Noting the problem, we can understand there is a solution. James 1:19, 20 reads, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (NKJV). Be swift to hear and quick to listen. A lot of the world’s problems could be solved by implementing this tactic. And we can utilize it to help in the areas where we have influence.
To be quick to listen means we should take an interest in what other people are saying, even if we don’t agree with them. Our lack of listening ability may be a significant contributor to why many young adults are leaving the Adventist Church at present.
And then step two in the three-step process from James 1:19 tells us that we should be slow to speak. The acronym THINK is helpful here. Before we say something or post it online, we should ask whether it is True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind.
By following these two steps, step three becomes easier: be slow to wrath, or anger.
Minimizing our anger maximizes our ability to be winsome to others. Satan knows this, which is why he pushes everyone to fall for anger, regardless of where we stand on any given topic. A key component to his deception and infection is corrupting our view of who other people are. When someone doesn’t think the way we do, we tend to think less of them. This, again, isn’t the way Jesus showed us.
Matthew 25:31-40 contains a powerful reminder that those we might consider “strangers” are indeed very important people. Chapter 70 of the book The Desire of Ages, entitled “The Least of These My Brethren,” is your prescribed assignment. Read this chapter, and I believe you will have a renewed understanding of the heart of God. Mind you, the people referred to in this chapter are those who have hearts that are “in need of consolation.” Many people everywhere have hearts in need of consolation. Those people are Republicans, and they are Democrats, they are independents, they wear masks, they don’t wear masks, they get vaccinated, they refuse the vaccination. Every one of them needs the love of Jesus, not the demon of unkindness. Which will you show them?
* Ellen G. White, The Sanctified Life (Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1889), p. 16.