Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men
(`et in terra pax hominibus, bonae voluntatis)
“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
As a child who lived through the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, I was a child who watched my father build an underground fallout shelter for our family, and I was a child who learned to crawl under my desk in school and under the bus going home from school. I thought that the days would one day arrive, when the human race would learn to live in harmony, residing on the same earth, and breathing in the same air….brothers under the skin. Well, I guess I was wrong. It seems that the magnificently evolved human being has learned about as much in the last 50 years as he learned since the first moment he drew breath and opened eyes against the glare of the sun….which is to say, very little. Oh yes, we have learned to defeat predators with four legs, we can now treat and cure diseases, we have even learned to co-habit a tiny man-made oasis that circles high above terra firma. But what we can not seem to overcome is diversity of culture and of religion. And until we do, there will be no such thing as “`et in terra pax hominibus, bonae voluntatis”!
Now we can go through our days being afraid of everything that moves. But that does not change anything. Instead, all it accomplishes is to allow us to wallow in our own fear and impotence. And fear nearly always rears its head not in retreat but in wrongly aimed accusations…as if they somehow empower us against the misguided and erroneous actions of others. Generally our fear and anger is not righteous anger and rightfully so, the Bible reminds us of the error of yielding to an anger borne from the feelings we experience from other people’s words or deeds. James 1:20 NIV reminds us, “Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires”. In other words, God does not want us to simply react from our gut, but instead, to become proactive in healing ourselves using our hearts and our minds and our convictions….and our FAITH! Because as we do so, something wonderful happens. As we heal, so grows our capacity to heal not just others, but the world, as well! And just in case you need some evidence in black and white, here are two dozen Bible verses that offer guidance and yes, even warnings, about anger!
- Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil (Psalm 37:8).
- A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult (Proverbs 12:16).
- Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).
- A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless (Proverbs 14:16
- A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly (Proverbs 14:29).
- A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1).
- A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel (Proverbs 15:18).
- A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered (Proverbs 17:27).
- It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel (Proverbs 20:3).
- Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you (Proverbs 20:22).
- Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control (Proverbs 25:28).
- Mockers stir up a city, but wise men turn away anger (Proverbs 29:8).
- A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control (Proverbs 29:11).
- You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment … first go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:21-24).
- Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
- Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
- The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions (Galatians 5:19-20).
- “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:26-7)..
- Let your gentleness be evident to all (Philippians 4:5).
- But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (Colossians 3:8).
- And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful (2 Timothy 2:24).
- My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires (James 1:19-20).
- Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).
- Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:29-32)
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