It has been super chilly here in West Texas — but with no moisture, so no snow or ice, just very cold temperatures. As I left my house yesterday, my car in the garage said the temperature was 44 degrees (which I knew was not the outdoor temp). As I drove the 3 or 4 miles to one of our campuses to teach a class, I watched my car drop the temp to 14 degrees in less than 5 minutes!
But later, I was reminded of the parallel between the rapid change in my car temperature and the rapid change of mood that can happen in an instant. The day before was a Saturday and I had no plans except some much-needed grocery shopping. Our men’s ministry was hosting a free turkey dinner that night and I had an idea to print off fliers and post at the two local stores where I planned to shop. It was a nice cozy morning and I had been in a good mood — until my husband came in and had a different view on my fliers.
Now, on a side note, we had the same goal but different views of how to get there and in an instant I was very angry. I was mad that my intentions were not understood, and then I was mad that I was mad. (Does that make sense?)
Later, I apologized to my husband and all was fine. But as I thought about the sudden drop of temperature in my car, I realized that must be why the Bible warns about being quick-tempered. Proverbs 14:17 says, “A quick-tempered man acts foolishly…” Yep. I can testify.
But what I really wanted to understand was HOW does a person go from warm, cozy, and content, to cold, frigid, and angry so quickly? What is it in our human disposition that can be set off like that? And how do we resist it?
One of my answers is found in 1 Corinthians 13, the famous love chapter. The Bible says love “is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.” (13:5, AMP). There’s so much more surrounding this verse I can add in, but focusing here it’s obvious that unless we cultivate and grow the love of God in our heart, the outcome in situations can turn into the complete opposite of this verse: we will behave rudely, we will seek our own (way), we will be easily provoked, and we will think evil of the person pushing against us.
But Romans 5:5 says, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” So there’s really no excuse. God has put His love in our hearts— but it’s our individual job to cultivate and grow it (and then tap into it in pressure situations).
The other verses that always come to mind is James 1:19-20, which says, “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.” This is our instruction but it’s tied to our previous verse from First Corinthians 13. In other words, if we never learn the correct behavior of love, how can we expect our wrath to be sloooooww?
When my car was in my garage, the temperature remained cozy. In the same way, when I keep my heart wrapped in the love of God, my disposition will remain cozy too. But expose either to sudden frigid situations without proper insulation, and the result isn’t pretty.
I know what I’ll be meditating on for awhile. I need some more insulation, so Love Chapter, here I come.