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Nation Aflame

Nation Aflame
By Hal Lindsey

Angry? Who isn’t? We all see what Putin continues to do in Ukraine, and that nations like China continue to make it possible. Anger seems like a reasonable response. When you see the fear and confusion being sown into young children around the world, does it make you angry? Of course it does! Some are outraged by the raid on Mar-a-Lago. Others are outraged at Donald Trump. Despite their differences, Americans tend to hold one thing in common — anger.

For a moment, push your animosity aside. Take a step back from a media establishment that makes its money by making you mad. Whichever side you are on, stop and consider. What does the Bible say?

First, the Bible does not condemn anger as evil in itself. Psalms 4:4 (NKJV) says, “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.” Yes, be angry. When you hear of child abuse, murder, or other injustices, be angry. But do not sin. Set your thoughts on the Lord. Pause. Be still.

The first part of Psalm 4:4 is quoted in the first part of Ephesians 4:26. “Be angry, and do not sin.” Anger can be a righteous response. But it never excuses sin. The second part of Ephesians 4:26 says, “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” Unrelenting anger will harm you mentally, physically, and spiritually. The next verse makes it clear that to hold on to your animosity is to “give place to the devil.” Think about that.

If you watch late night comedians or even cable TV news commentators, you will find that many liberals and many conservatives have become professional “scoffers.” They laugh at their political opponents. They make fun of them like bullies abusing another child on the playground. Psalm 1:1-2 warns against spending time with such people. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.”

Verse 3 tells how much better it is for those who meditate on God’s word than for those who hang out with the scoffers. It says the person focused on God’s word “shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” If you want that kind of blessing in your life, think on the things of God. Do not “walk in the counsel of the ungodly,” nor “stand in the path of sinners,” nor “sit in the seat of the scornful.” Instead, delight yourself in God and His word.

The NKJV and KJV use the word “scornful.” The NASB and ESB Bibles translate it as “scoffers.” The NIV and New Living Translations say, “mockers.” Proverbs 29:8 says that such people — the mocking, scoffing, scorners — “set a city aflame.” Our country is aflame with rage because as a nation we have chosen to follow the scornful.

The second half of that verse says, “But wise men turn away wrath.” Your country, your friends, and your family need you to be wise right now. That harsh meme on Facebook may express your frustration and outrage, but is it wise? Are you inflaming resentment? Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Which do you choose?

We must criticize America, her institutions, and her leaders when they are wrong. But we can do so in thoughtful, intelligent, persuasive ways. We do not have to choose the path of scorn and rage. Our goal is to win people to Christ, not bully them. We want to persuade them, not slap them on the side of the head with “a harsh word.”

Remember 1 Corinthians 13:4, 5, and 8. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked…Love never fails.”

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