“Moses said to them, “Listen you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” Numbers 20:10b-12
Angry obedience is better than no obedience, but it is not the best obedience. It has its positive results and it has its negative consequences. It does get results, but does so at the expense of dishonoring God and people. It’s like a frustrated husband who lashes out at his wife, yet says that he loves her because he provides her food, a home, a car, and clothes. The facts of his provision are true, but there is something ominous about the omission of love and respect in the tone of his defense. In this angry reaction, God is not glorified and self becomes the center of attention. Anger drives this type of response. It may be anger from the grumbling of ungrateful people; it may be anger at others whose capacity for work and activity does not meet your expectations; it may be anger for always having to be responsible for irresponsible people; it may be anger at oneself for not preparing others to do their own planning and implementation. Obeying God is more than going through the right motions. It is going through the right motions with an attitude that acknowledges Him as the source of provision and trust. Anger puts the self-control of the Holy Spirit into hibernation. We are tempted to get angry with others for their ingratitude, when our own lack of trust in God denies His grace. We get angry when we place too much on others and ourselves; anger limits us. However, appropriation of God’s grace infuses graciousness. His grace enables you to trust in the Almighty’s agenda. You can trust Him and rest in His provision, instead of rushing into angry reactions. You can get right results without being driven by anger. Ask God to replace your anger with His understanding. Submit to the control of the Holy Spirit. Your submission to your Savior positions you to walk in humility, not in pride. Those who do not live up to their expectations easily offend prideful people. Humble people, however, are patient and self-controlled. They are as concerned about the means as they are the ends. Unfortunately, at any given moment, anger can push humility out and replace it with pride. It is a Christless coup of the heart. You become too driven when you run over relationships. Praise God there is a remedy to anger-driven living. The remedy is living at a pace governed by grace. Living without margin pushes out grace and incubates anger. Therefore, create more time for people and prayer. Grace-filled living is more relational and less transactional. Relationally motivated people ask caring questions instead of engaging in angry accusations. Their obedience to God is motivated by their fear of God. This honors Him, which in turn extends love and respect to others. Once you leave your place of prayer, you are still to pray. You pray without ceasing and you ask the Holy Spirit to douse any flittering fires of anger that pride tries to ignite. Stop and discern the Spirit’s prompting to pause in prayer. Replace anger with peace and patience. The promised land of more opportunity awaits those whose complete trust in God is their motivation to obey Him. Pray as the Psalmist: “Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart” (Psalm 119:34).