Emotions are Powerful

Judges 15:3

“Samson said to them, ‘This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.'”

When Samson’s wife betrayed him (at their wedding banquet), by manipulating him into telling her the answer of his riddle given to her people (the Philistines), and telling her people the answer so Samson lost the game/bet. He got so angry that he left his newly-wed wife and went back to his father’s home. His father-in-law thought that he hated his wife so he gave her to his best man (Judges 14: 20, 15:2) When Samson later came back to find his wife, he found out about this, and that’s when he said those words in verse 3, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” He went on to destroyed their fields, shocks, standing grain, vineyards, and olive groves. His anger was really burning, and he wanted revenge to do real harm.

What happened then? The Philistines burned his wife and her father to death! (v.6) So Samson said, “Since you’ve acted like this, I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.” (v.7) And he killed many of them. So they pursued him and was about to attack Judah to get him (v.9) What a vicious cycle!! We can understand why Samson would feel angry in his situations, but we also see the tragic consequences of his behaviors in anger. Probably none of those later tragedies would have happened if he didn’t leave his wife at their wedding banquet and went away in anger, without explaining anything to her or her father.

How often do we feel and do similar things? “You make me so angry, so I will fight and attack back to get you. I will make you hurt too, and even worse because you deserve it!” “You make me so angry and hurt, so I have the right to be silent and not talk to you, for as long as I want! I am going to punish you with this silence and distance between us!” Thoughts likes these are not uncommon to us, and we feel so innocent and justified. The EXB translation of Judges 15:3 says, “But Samson said to them, ‘This time ·no one will blame me [I am justified/blameless/innocent] for hurting you Philistines!'” What a vivid picture of our hearts in anger sometimes. No wonder God warns us that, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” (Proverbs 29:11) If we pick up a mirror and look into it in those moments, we see a fool giving full vent to their rage.

Psalm 37:8-9 says, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” It encourages us to remain obedient to the Lord’s commands in our anger, and look to Him and His grace, instead of looking to what we are not getting and letting our emotions control us so that we become a slave to them. God is faithful. The truly wicked will be destroyed by Him. Our job on earth is to shine for Him and bring many to Him. Let us not let strong emotions control us or let our hearts deceive us. May God help us to trust Him even when we are wronged and hurt, and help us to learn from Jesus and to love people even when we are not loved back, like how we were loved so much by God that He sent His only Son to die for us in order to save us, when we didn’t acknowledge him and despised his holy name (Romans 5:8).

Wisdom and Humility Facing an Enemy

Judges 11:12b

“‘What do you have against me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?'”

When the enemy (Ammonite king) came to attack the Israelites, Jephthah the leader of Gilead didn’t respond in anger and attack back. Instead, he moved towards the enemy, seeking out communication by asking the Ammonite king this question, to understand him first. This takes great humility and is true wisdom when we face an attack from someone.

The Lord teaches us through Proverbs 16:32, that “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” Being patient with self-control is not weak or stupid, nor is it being a doormat. It’s a beautiful fruit of the Holy Spirit working in us, to put faith and trust in God, and to show kindness and love when we are challenged.

May God grant us wisdom and humility with patience and self-control when we face difficult and challenging situations that tempt us to sin. May He help us to put faith and trust in Him, knowing that He is sovereign in all our circumstances, and He loves us and protects us.

Disarming an Angry Person

Judges 8:1-3

Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, ‘Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?’ And they challenged him vigorously. But he answered them, ‘What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?’ At this, their resentment against him subsided.

How often have we engaged with an angry person, but only left the interaction feeling angry and deeply hurt because the conversation had escalated quickly where we started “shooting arrows” at each other with our tongues?

When the Ephraimites complained (angrily) that they had been called out only belatedly into the battle, Gideon’s humble answer turned away their anger, instead of “shooting” back at them by saying things like, “have called you out when we have done all the hard work, and you only needed to capture the leaders whom we had chased into your hands. And you have had great victory and benefits from this. What do you have to complain about?” (We can image how that conversation would go.)

The Lord teaches us in his wisdom, “A gentle answer makes anger disappear, but a rough answer makes it grow.” (Proverbs 15:1, ERV) This is a great lesson to learn as we humble ourselves before the Lord, and see things from his perspective, acknowledging that it’s God’s doing and will in our lives that preserve us in his grace, giving us anything that we have, and giving the glory to him, “God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?” May the Lord help us to keep looking to Jesus as we are challenged by others’ anger, and humble us to help turn their eyes to God as well, that anger would be disarmed, and love restored.

 

How to Love When It’s Difficult

Hebrews 4:14-16
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Jesus has warned us beforehand, “In this world you will have trouble.” but he has also given us the answer to our suffering, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” so that “in me you may have peace.” Life is hard, life in Christ might even be harder, the difference is that our sufferings are not without hope. Christ, our Lord has overcome the world, and we are over-comers in him.
Facing temptations and trials, our own strength and wisdom always fail us, but God allows them to test our hearts and turn our eyes to him, knowing that He is the source of all wisdom, strength, and grace. Without looking to Him, we cannot love others well, especially those who sin against us. If we are not looking to Him, we will quickly look to ourselves, and define love base on what we have received, how well we have been treated (the way we want to be treated). Then we make a mental decision if the other person is lovable or not, and we lose sight of God completely, with no pursuit of holiness. (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
How do we love when things are difficult? Let’s first turn to the source of all pure love, draw near to the throne of grace, and learn from Him, remembering how he kneels down to wash his disciples’ feet even though he knows that they would use those same feet to run away and deny him the next day (when he is dying for them!) remembering how he is willing to die for us on the cross so that we could be reconciled to God and have eternal life. He is good and faithful, and will give us mercy and grace to help us journey through the difficult times in life. He will sustain us and grow us to love like Jesus, the One who sees all our flaws and sins and loves us still to the end by giving us all he has.