Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; indeed, you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace — Psalm 37:8-11
“Don’t hurt yourself!” It’s a warning we hear often from a friend or spouse, or maybe said to our children. David is telling us that anger and wrath, which cause fretting, will turn around and bite us! How? If we allow anger to consume us, it will make its way from our hearts and minds into our actions. Then it becomes our sin, as well as that of the individual whose sin “made” us angry to begin with. God wants us to put a halt to our angry feelings. In fact, David is saying that if we fret and get angry, evildoers get the satisfaction they were looking for.
What have we learned about future-first thinking? It certainly applies here. How did Jesus comfort His disciples about His soon departure? “Let not your hearts be troubled . . . ” (John 14:1-4). How could they do that? Only by clinging to the words that He spoke next: “In my Father’s house are many mansions; . . . I go to prepare a place for you . . . and I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. . . .” In other words, applying future-first thinking, Jesus says, “Deal with the here-and-now by remembering that I’m coming again to take you to heaven with Me!”
As we consider those who do evil and how much they can hurt us at times, lets see what Solomon wrote in Proverbs 24:16-20: “A righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity. Do not rejoice when your enemy falls . . . lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him. Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the wicked; for . . . the lamp of the wicked will be put out.”
It’s not God’s will that any should perish but that all would come to repentance (John 3:16). But, sadly, not all will come. So, down to the nitty-gritty: How do we get to this “ceasing from anger” and “not fretting” attitude? Keep this in mind: there is no injustice in eternity. No one will be in heaven who doesn’t love Christ, and no one will go to hell undeserved. Heaven will be a place absent of injustice, pain, and sorrow. The truth is, friends, we may be abused and betrayed, and the wicked may seem to prosper. Christians may be killed just for being Christians. But eternity lasts a long, long time (to put it mildly), and there will be no such injustice there.
Are you a future-first thinker? Or is your mind consumed with the here-and-now? The better way requires ceasing from anger, wrath, and fretting. All those who bring wicked schemes to pass and don’t repent will surely reap the whirlwind of what they have sown. And it’s an eternal penalty. But the wonderful news is that no one is prevented from becoming a person who trusts, delights, and rests in the Lord—for eternity!
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