I had a little trouble writing this message. The trouble wasn’t due to the content of the lesson, but a wound on the finger. Yesterday, I was fishing around under my cabinet for a razor, and I was a little emotional, so I was fishing vigorously, and guess what: I found it. But I found the wrong end. A small place was cut on two of my fingers on my right hand and offered as a sacrifice to the god of stupidity. I seem to do that often, make stupid sacrifices, that is ….
It’s really no big deal, (that is, unless you feel sorry for me and then it really hurts very much). The cuts would be long forgotten except for one thing; I need that finger for my keyboard and that finger does most of the tapping. This is one busy finger. But this is also one tender finger. Each time I touch a key, I’m reminded to use my index finger for the next sentence and more caution the next time I search for anything sharp.
Perhaps you’ve had your share of cuts as well. Not cuts on the finger, but cuts on the heart. Maybe not run-ins with a razor, but run-ins with people. People that wound … Harsh words …. Stinging rebukes …. Thoughtless remarks …. Broken promises ….
We aren’t long in the world until we meet the razor sharp edge of someone else’s behavior. These cuts on the soul don’t take our flesh, but they do take our sleep, our joy, and our trust. Trust is hard to come by …
And these wounds can often make us touchy, hyper-sensitive, over-cautious, and quick on the trigger. Just let someone brush against the sore spot and we react. A topic is raised, a voice is heard, or a face is seen and we feel provoked …. Often, we act rashly or say something we’ll later regret. All because we carry an unhealed hurt ….
How do these wounds heal? It’s one thing to put ointment on a finger, then slap a Band-aid on it; quite another to put salve on the soul. There is no Band-aid for a heart. Where do you buy the medicine for rejection? What store carries the Band-Aid for bitterness? How do you treat the hurts of the heart?
I have found a couple of answers in Paul’s love chapter to the Corinthians:
Love “doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.”
(1 Corinthians 13:5)
Wow …. I am always awestruck at the characteristics of love and instructions as how love behaves. Especially since it was so foreign to me as a child growing up. So, what do you do with a hurt of the heart? Treat it immediately. When the heart feels wounded you go to the Healer, and the book on love is a soothing balm ….
Probably the clearest translation of this verse is one of the oldest. The (KJV) translates it this way: “love is not easily provoked” ~ The root word for “provoked” is truly interesting: it means, “to sharpen.” A picture comes to mind of a man circling the blade of his pocketknife on a flat piece of rock. The steady contact between the hard stone and the softer metal sharpens the knife ….
This must be what the writer of Hebrews had in mind when he wrote:
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” (Hebrews 10:24)
When one person “rubs up against” another the result can be a sharpening effect. Intellect is sharpened, resolve is sharpened, and conviction is sharpened:
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
There are times, however, when the result is not sharpening, but cutting: as the NIV translates, “spur one another” meaning that sometimes two people rub together and one or both gets rubbed the wrong way. With real “spurring,” pokes, and sticks, cuts are usually inevitable ….
Run barefoot long enough and you’ll get scratches on your soles; in the same manner, sometimes running long enough with certain people will get you a “pain in the neck” or “a knife in the back” or even a “cut to the heart” ….
In life, and relationships, pain is inevitable. However misery and infections are optional. The untreated flesh wound is prone to infection. The pain level sky-rockets. So as is the untreated heart-wound susceptible to infection as well. It recoils at the slightest pressure ….
Unless you treat your hurts, you’ll become touchy, irritable, quick tempered, quick to take offense, easily angered, and you’ll fly off the handle. Now those aren’t my words; those are Paul’s. Search out and look at the different translations of (v 5) and you’ll read that love isn’t ….. “Touchy” (LB) “Quick tempered” (CEV) “Irritable” (NLT) “Quick to take offense” (NEB) “Easily angered” (NCV). These emotions are symptoms of an untreated wound ….
“Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath. If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.” (Proverbs 29:8-9).
When it comes to a hurt of the heart, treat it immediately. And just how do you treat it? Remove it entirely. Just as Paul says, basically, love does not store up the memory of any wrong it has received ….
I know what it takes to store something up. My grandmother used to store up canned preserves. I still remember she had an underground cellar in her back yard. She would go to work in the kitchen. Hours and hours would be spent in front of a huge pot, cooking and stirring, and at just the right time, she would fill the Mason jars and seal them with a rubberized lid. Down into the cellar they would go. I remember the aroma, and I still remember another “stuck on stupid” moment when I thought I could be sneaky and stick my finger into some of those warm preserves, sending 3 jars crashing to the floor in my childish enthusiasm ….
Don’t we have a tendency to do the same with hurts? A pain comes into our world, but rather than deal with it quickly, we keep it around. We slice it and dice it and let it stew. We stir it and cook it, and cook it and stir it. And just when we get up a good mad going, we take the emotion and bottle it up and store it away down deep in the cellar of our hearts, only for it to come crashing into our memories at some inopportune time ….
Ever wonder why some people are so negative?
You would be too, if you stored away every hurt you’ve ever received ….
Ever wonder why some people are so prejudiced?
You would be, too, if you catalogued your pain according to gender or accent or skin color ….
Ever wonder why some people are so sour of disposition?
Well, you would be, better stated, you will be too, if you spend your time harvesting your hurts and storing them away ….
Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matthew 12:34).
Do you really want to know why some mouths are so mean? It is often because their hearts are so full of hurt ….
But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose what enters our hearts. Rather than store up, we can “fill up” as the Apostle Paul said it this way:
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Rather than store up the sour, store up the sweet.
You cannot avoid getting hurt. But you can avoid letting your hurts hurt you.
Are you harboring some hurts? Are you letting some wounds fester?
Do you find yourself touchy and irritable? Is the cellar of your heart full of stored up anger?
If so, let me ask a few questions ~
Is your storehouse of anger doing you any good? Are you happier? Better? More fun to be with? Does God want you to be angry all the time? Well of course not. Didn’t he tell us, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
He knows the damage your anger can do. He does not want you to be angry, and as he taught us: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” That means before you lay your head and your wounded heart down, full of emotions; confess it, cry it out and then release it. The very next verse says, “Neither give place to the devil.” and if you lay down hurt or angry, you will awake the same, and the devil your adversary will increase those emotions tenfold as you think about it and lick your wounds throughout the day ….
Can God help you get rid of your anger? Absolutely!!
He made galaxies man has never seen and dug canyons we have yet to find. Don’t you think he could heal your bitter heart? He “healeth all thy diseases” (Psalm 103:3-6). Do you think among those diseases might be the affliction of anger? Do you think God could heal your anger? Do you even want him to, or do you just like carrying all that baggage throughout your day?
This is not a trick question. He asks you the same question that he asked of the invalid, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:6).
Not everyone does. You may be addicted to anger. You may be a bitterness-junky. Your anger may be part of your identity. But if you want Him to, He can change your identity. He wants to clean out your cellar and replace it with the fruits of His love. Do you want Him to do so? Then, one final question: Why don’t you ask him?
Pray something like this:
Father, I am so angry and so hurt. My heart was hurt by ____. Would you take away this pain? I can’t do it without you. Please help me ….
Next time those hurts surface in your memory, go quickly into God’s presence. Think of Him until the anger passes. In time, and it may take some time, but the infection will heal and the wound will close. Isn’t that what God wants?
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
(2 Corinthians 10:4-6)
God bless you. Walk in love today ~