“An angry retort from someone may be just the occasion we need in which to learn not only long-suffering and forgiveness, but meekness and gentleness; fruits not born in us but borne only by the Spirit.” (Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart)
Oh, our Lord’s precious, refining fire. If no one ever spit anger at me — either because of my commitment to Jesus, or because of their sin, or because of my own unintentional sin against them — if my life were only a Cinderella story (the happy ending part), I’d never have reason to forgive. I’d live each day in blissful happiness (and that’s what we really want, isn’t it?), but I’d never have to rely on God to help me be meek and gentle in the face of accusations or insults.
I’d also — and this is definitely not something we’re born with, or care to do, but fruit borne of the Spirit — I’d also never be forced to examine my own defensive, how dare you response. I’d not be made to see my desperate need of Christ’s refining fire in my short-suffering, unforgiving, un-meek heart. When I’m insulted or challenged or become the brunt of an angry retort, all my ugly inner cracks ooze and reveal my commitment to my self-right-ness.
Father, when our hearts beat with anger because of someone else’s anger toward us — sure we’ve been treated wrongly, judged incorrectly, disrespected — remind us that you care to work patience, forgiveness, long-suffering in us. Show us, too, that often you’re actually bringing to light our own self-worship and pride. You aren’t only working forgiveness for our offender in us, but you’re also revealing our own need of forgiveness. For our self-righteous-leaning hearts tell us we’re in the right and we’re noble to be so patient with our offender in an “I’m superior to/greater than them” way. Remind us that you’re actually often revealing cracks in our desire to follow you — we’d like to follow, but only so long as others treat us well. Turn the spotlight of your Spirit onto our hearts when we sense self-protective anger boiling within.
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” Prov.19:11