Anger or love, it’s your choice

A Devotion by Joe G.

December 19, 2022

“Anger or love, it’s a choice.”

1 John 4:9-11; Matthew 22:35b-40

It’s difficult, isn’t it? I mean, to love one another. It’s hard, isn’t it? As I read this morning’s news, I saw yet another case of road rage. It landed both drivers in the hospital. Was it worth it? From my perspective, I’d say no. However, from the perspective of one or both of the drivers, they may feel they were justified in what they did.

Throughout my life, I’ve had many people with whom I’ve become angry, if not enraged. But, justified or not, someone always got physically or emotionally hurt.

When we’re angry, the tricky thing is to “Let it Go.” Yeah, I just copied Elsa from the movie, “Frozen,” but it’s true. We are not judge and jury; that’s God’s job, not ours.

Age and wisdom have tempered a lot of my anger toward others. But I’m not perfect by any means. So on occasion, I still get angry. And, every time I do, I inevitably regret later that I had.

**********************The Point**********************

It seems so simple, doesn’t it?

“Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

But we all know it isn’t that easy. We live with a sinful nature; at times, we fight with, argue, hurt, demean and loathe others.

It’s not just in the 1 John passage above we are given a specific example of loving others. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son (Jesus) as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. ”  

We see it in the Gospel of Matthew in Jesus’ own words. He specifically instructs us on two levels of love.

“An expert in the law, tested him (Jesus) with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

“Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:35b-40

Loving God and loving others is not a suggestion. Jesus sums up the entire ten commandments in one statement. Love God (First) and love your neighbor. Who’s your neighbor? It’s not just the person who lives in the house next door or across the street from you. Your neighbor is the person in line behind you in the checkout line at the supermarket. Your neighbor is your co-worker. Your neighbor is the person sitting at the table next to you in Starbucks. Everyone is your and my neighbor.

People seem to get caught up in Jesus’ statement: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Well, I’ve been really depressed lately, and I’m not feeling good about myself. So since I’m not liking myself too much right now, I don’t need to love my neighbor.”

Just because we’re sad or down about ourselves doesn’t mean we don’t or shouldn’t love our neighbor. But first, we need to understand what it means to love ourselves.

“Loving ourselves means we see our value because Jesus did—enough to die on the cross for us! Learning to love ourselves because of the value we have in Jesus will help us love our neighbors.”  (You Version, “How, to love your neighbors,” day 2 of Bible Plan)

You see. It has nothing to do with us. It does have everything to do with Jesus. We love because He first loved and loves us.

Perhaps it is simple, after all. Love God and love your neighbor. We know who God is; now, just remember, your neighbor is everyone you meet. From friends to family to perfect strangers, everyone is your neighbor.

When you have a choice between love and anger, choose love. In the words of a very wise man. “All you need is love.” (John Lennon)

Amen.

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