Write This Down: Wrath

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“Write This Down…” provides a restatement of selected points or observations from various teaching venues at which Pastor Matthew speaks. The following material is from Pastor Matthew’s sermon entitled, “Wrath,” part of the series called “The Seven Deadly Sins,” the weekend of October 24, 2010 at Bethel Church:

Wrath is when my thirst for justice goes beyond righteous indignation toward vengeance and a passion to destroy.

1 Samuel 24:1 and following gives insight into the way in which wrath manifests itself in our lives. When given an opportunity to kill King Saul, David’s brutal antagonist, David, despite the urging of his associates, stands down, determining that he cannot put his hand “against the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:10). It becomes clear that having a heart conditioned toward grace and mercy—indeed, forgiveness—made it possible for David to do so. Being willing to pay the price for “turning the other cheek” (cp. Matthew 5:38-42) is also a necessity. David was willing to pay this price, despite his friends’ exhortation to kill the king.

Psalm 57 offers a helpful portrait of how David could entrust his pain to God. First, we see David elevate the power of mercy (Psalm 57:1). Secondly, we note that David expects God to right the wrongs directed toward David; it is God who “will put to shame him who tramples” on David (Psalm 57:3). Then we note how David was far more concerned with God’s glory than with his own, a real sign of surrender and selflessness (Psalm 57:5). Finally, David allow praise of God to overwhelm the pain caused by men, declaring, “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples” (Psalm 57:9).

Opposition is best dealt with not by passivity or vengeance, but by turning the other cheek, giving away the remaining garment, and going the extra mile (cp. Matthew 5:38-42). This, according to Jeff Cook in his book Seven, evens the playing field, forcing both parties to deal with their respective humanity, giving way, ideally to brokenness and peace. It is a call against self-interest and the need to win.

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