If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1
Scene: Walmart Super Center Saturday early afternoon.
Internal monologue: “Oh my gosh! This woman is the human equivalent of a sloth! What in the world is her issue? Just scan the stupid thing, how hard is that? Just pass it over the stupid scanner! That scanner laser hit her in the eye one too many times! For saint’s sake! No! I do not care that you think the other brand is better and that your aunt swears by it! OH if she doesn’t get her butt in gear I’m coming across this counter and give her ring up 101! I could scream and if that woman on the next counter doesn’t stick a passie in that brat’s mouth! I’m gonna put my fist in hers! UGH! I’ve got too much to do than to put up with this! Just ring up the …..”
On the outside, I was smiling, nodding and behaving in a civilized and proper fashion. However, on the inside, I was in a full-blown tirade and it continued to escalate into an insult, parentage questioning harangue. You may be saying, “well good for you for not exploding on the woman”. “Good for you for keeping it together” but, God was not as impressed.
Recently, for a previous class, I read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) and in my current class I am reading the book by John Stott, “Basic Christianity.” These two resources brought an awareness to me that somehow I had allowed to remain unexplored.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Matthew 5:21-22)
I was just as guilty as if I had begun shouting and berating this woman out loud when I allowed my thoughts to run on and on with angry insults internally. We judge each other and ourselves by what we observe on the outside, but God judges the heart. Let me tell you, that Saturday morning, my heart was black as coal. Throughout the Bible we are taught to be in control and that control extends to your thoughts. Was I irritated and should that lady had attended to her child? Yes, I think so. However, for me to allow those thoughts to take off was nothing more than fodder for my anger that extended throughout the day. Being angry was not my sin it was how I allowed myself to lose control and wallow in my aggravation.
We as Christians are to not just be in control of our actions and words but our thoughts. Yes, you will have thoughts and maybe an internal groan, but when you allow those thoughts to take over, you have lost control. Or in my case, just gave over control.
God is looking and listening to your heart. Does He like what He sees and hears? Christian behavior extends beyond what you let people see and it is more than outward action. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:1:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
Do not be a clanging cymbal. Instead, do not just temper your external words and actions but you internal as well. Exercise as much restraint on the inside that you do on the outside.
Typist for Jesus