1 Corinthians 10:23- Applied: Dealing With Anger

You’ve probably said a few bad words. You might have regretted a few. They might have made you feel better. Maybe your mom scolded you. Maybe she had you wash your mouth out with soap.

I remember the day I thought a bad word in my head. Of course, I didn’t say it out-loud, but I was mad and the word just *popped* into my head. I think I was 13 or 14. I was a prudish child, and I suppose most people might still consider me to be so, though I feel I’m much less serious these days. In the following years I began to think that bad words were really just words… A bit stronger than normal words, but it was really okay to say them sometimes. I really don’t mind when people cuss a bit here or there, one 4-letter word doesn’t bother me too much. Now every other word, I figure you’re just a bitter person with nothing to really say and that’s obnoxious.

Now, I don’t think an angry word here or there is really going to ruin your life. Because it’s not. I remember one day a while back I was talking about something and I said that it “really pissed me off.” And someone stopped me, and they said, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say that before, Merry.” It occurred to me, that I probably never actually had. I really just don’t use stronger language all that often, though I have before. And I see myself, and some of the friends I’ve known for a while grow more and more okay with the kind of language we use and the things that we say.

Verbatim is quite fascinating. On one hand, the difference between saying “dang it” and “damn it” is only a mere letter. Yet, I recall writing a novel a few years back and feeling guilty for writing the latter of the two, but thinking that my character wouldn’t go for anything less than that. There is a whole sort of level of using these words, they’re “off-limits” and it makes a person feel better in some regard to grab something off the shelf of “off-limits” and throw it in the expanse of space between themselves and the situation, much like pulling down a glass vase, in spite, and letting it shatter on the floor.

1 Corinthians 10:23 says: “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

These snappy, spiteful words gain a person very little. We think to ourselves, yes, I can say this, it’s not a big deal, but is it really constructive? I had recently been thinking that perhaps there was a time and place to use a fiery word. I think anyone can probably reason and say it’s not constructive to ever use bad language to a person or about a person.“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”- Proverbs 15:1. Honestly, any time you use one of those “off-limits” words, you’re playing into your own anger.

Have you ever noticed that when someone asks you about a situation that you’d previously been upset about, that when you begin to recount what had happened, your anger reappears? 

Ecclesiastes 7:9 says: Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

I believe that strong words help to provoke our spirits. Things have been piling up wood in a pit of anger, and the words we choose can light the match, even in our own hearts. Satan tempts us, especially as young Christians, into the idea that it’s okay to act on anger, even with our words. But Jesus taught us to be slow to anger and abounding in love.

I’ve heard it said that often, as Christians we ask “how close can I get to sin, before I’m sinning?” When we should really be asking “How far can I get away from sin?” A spirit of anger cannot be filled with love, it burns with rage, bitterness, and selfishness. Is not most of our anger out of spite that things have not gone our way? It is not wrong to be angry, but to be anger quickly, and to stay angry. . .  you’d be surprised how much energy you’re wasting doing so.

Working in fast food industry, Chick-fil-A, I’ve seen a lot of people lose their temper quickly over really stupid stuff. And I see myself do it. It wastes energy. It wears a person out to get angry, it brings other people down, it hurts people’s feelings, so then they get mad. Suddenly my whole workplace nearly goes up in flames in anger and frustration.

Throwing one harsh word into the mix really makes situations explode in fury. Each person knows that these particular word, though they may be only a few letters different from those considered “cleaner,” carry a lot of weight.

The Bible warns us not to be easily angered, but to be slow to anger, as God is. I know that sometimes I struggle with this. If you’re someone who struggles with anger, think about how you treat a frustrating situation. Do you tell people off? Do you say a nasty word about the situation later or even during the event? Are you stirring up the anger repeatedly by talking about the situation constantly, reminding yourself and everyone else how angry you are? I encourage you, pick one of these things to work on, and let other people know you’re working on it so that they can keep you accountable. You won’t become slow to anger in one night, but working on the language you use really does make a difference.

1 Corinthians 10:23 helps us live a different way, there are things we can choose to do, things in the grey area, but this verse helps to guide us out of the grey area and encourages us to work on having pure minds, pure intentions, and pure mouths.

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1 Corinthians 10:23 Applied– Jesus Film vs. That ’70s Show.

I’m a workahaulic in the sense that I have this ridiculous ability to run myself so far into the ground that I can’t stop running so I dig myself a deep trench. In this trench is where I finally collapse into an insane pit of absolute mindlessness and brain frying possibilities. I first found this pit for it’s true nature over Spring Break. (I’ll go into all the reasons I shouldn’t be a workahaulic on a later date)

During the course of Spring Break I discovered my guilty pleasure of “That ’70s Show.” I think I watched 3 seasons in 5 days. I wasn’t really all that concerned about the habit because… it was Spring Break, so who cared? Now, if you’ve never seen That ’70s Show, it’s not something I would recommend. It’s completely immoral, I think it’s hilarious. (When I get into my pit, I find myself wanting to watch mindless TV that has nothing to do with my own life.) That ’70s Show has nothing to do with my own life whatsoever. Is it a good show? No. It’s really not. But was it really hurting anything? I didn’t think so, as long as I didn’t watch quite so much of it after Spring Break.

So spring break ended. I discontinued watching TV, in-fact, my mom disconnected our TV (which has only ever enabled us to watch Netflix or 5 channels). When summer came, though, I remembered that our netflix subscription was still very much in tact. I didn’t want to watch too much TV, just a little. So I would limit myself to about an hour worth of episodes on the nights I would watch TV. And some nights I watched Family Ties or the Cosby Show, or Macgyver. But some nights I wanted to watch That ’70s Show.

Everyone has that thing that is bad for them. I would say that one episode of a show isn’t really a bad thing. It’s not going to ruin you for life. But I got to thinking, that this was a really bad habit for me to have. I found that I had a change in behaivor when I watched the show. Not that I was suddenly an immoral person. But I was unfocused. I had this idea at the back of my head, that I wanted a fun life. I didn’t want to go off and do all the stupid things they did on TV, and deep down I knew I didn’t really want a stupid selfish life filled with worthlessness. Because I knew it was just that, worthless.

I found a copy of the Jesus film in my room, something I’d gotten at a missions convention or meeting. I decided that I would watch that instead of my regular television addiction. So for a week I watched parts of the Jesus Film, some nights I practically guilted myself into watching it, because some nights I would have rather watched something else (as the Jesus film isn’t very well done, and errs on the side of boring in some places and comical in others regarding the way the actor playing Jesus’ hair looks). So I thought to myself do I want to watch something about Jesus or do I want to watch something worthless?

And at first I wasn’t sure I needed to really guilt myself into it, but thinking again, when it really comes down to it, that really is the choice we’re making. Not really watching something Christian vs watching something Immoral… But every choice we make comes down to Jesus’ way or our way. And Jesus is the only way.

I’ve always been a bit of a scattered person, and I struggle to have focus. Watching TV doesn’t help me, I use it to escape, it unfocuses me, and I’m starting to realize that is regardless of the show I’m watching. Paul writes “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. – 1 Corinthians 10:23.

Sometimes the things standing between us and God aren’t deliberate sins but hidden things in our lives. What’s in your life that’s making you settle for something less? Maybe you want a fairytale romance, maybe you’re after a big career, maybe, like me sometimes you just wish for “the fun life.” When you’re watching TV or something. Anything can play into these struggles and desires in us. They distract us from Christ.

 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. — Hebrews 12:1-3.

Let us not sit idly doing nothing which seems like it would not affect us either way,  but we must run in such a way to get the prize! (1 Cor. 9:24) Our choices have a much bigger value than just one night choosing between That ’70s Show or the Jesus Film. Wouldn’t it be better to spend more time pursuing God than just letting time pass?

1 Corinthians 10:23 Applied: Music.

A lot of my friends are music junkies. I… am not really all that big of a music junkie. I sing, but I don’t play an instrument and when I did I played violin, and I wasn’t very good at all. Maybe being a geek of all things sound would change my opinions of music, as I’ve been told I’m not into anything high-quality. Though I think music tastes differ quite a lot.

Most of the time, I don’t know a lot of the bands or songs people are talking about. This is half due to my lack of musical intrigue, and half due to the fact that I rarely listen to the secular radio stations.

I used to think that music had no affect on me. I have an odd love for Michael Jackson music, all things disco, and an occasional Lady Gaga song. In their own way they are musical geniuses. It’s unique, it’s fun, you can party to the beat. I listen to secular radio or music when I get tired of the songs that play on the Christian radio. Let’s face it, there’s a lot more secular music than Christian, and I listen to the radio when I drive A LOT.

Not all songs that fail to mention Jesus or God or the Bible or hymns are evil. Don’t think I’m about to say that. I know some really conservative people would say that. Some of them think all music is from the devil. Or like Fez’s host family on That ’70s Show, they say that rap/disco/anything with a beat played backwards tells you to kill your parents, or worship the devil. But lyrics really do matter quite a lot. There’s a lot of songs I’ve listened to quite a few times and then realized they were saying some pretty horrible things. Most of Lady Gaga’s songs are fairly disturbing and I have to remind myself not to listen to them. A lot of pop music is extremely catchy. So when the Christian music seems to get all-too repetetive, I have to remind myself what I told a friend one day, I would rather have songs stuck in my head about Jesus, than about how badly drunk I am.

Now, there’s a lot of secular music out there that isn’t really bad… but it’s not really good either. Songs have about 3-5 minutes to convey to you any message that they want, that will stay with you for hours given the right opportunity. I find that when I choose to listen to Christian music and Christian radio I’m more focused. It’s not that non-Christian music will lead you down the wrong path and you’ll start partying and drinking your guts out and end up in rehab, it’s that listening to Christian music is helping you down  the right path. As the Apostle Paul writes:

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. — 1 Corinthians 10:23

Christian music will most likely fill your head with songs of truth, of joy, and of Christ, while non-Christian music will just fill your head. There was a challenge for K-Love, I believe, to listen to only Christian music for 1 month, to see how it changed your life. If you’re not someone who listens to Christian radio, I challenge you to try it. It really does change your focus from a blurry outlook on life, to a more clear eye on Christ.