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18th February: Righteous Anger... or is it? (2)

A soft answer turneth away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

The mother of the second patient had the misfortune to ask for a home visit on a very busy Monday morning. My surgery had finished one and a quarter hours late, and there were twice as many visits as normal to be done. I already knew this particular Indian family to be a hypochondriacal bunch, and after examining the boy at home I found no abnormality to explain his rather vague symptoms. As I was about to explain that I thought nothing serious was wrong, the boy began to recite some further symptomatology in my right ear while the mother commenced firing into my left. I felt really angry with the pair of them and curtly told them I did not consider the visit necessary, and if she wanted the boy seen again she could bring him down to the surgery. Almost as an after thought I gave them a form for a blood count `just to prove that there is nothing wrong with him' and then walked out. Imagine my embarrassment when the result came back showing a grossly elevated sedimentation rate! My anger had almost led to a missed diagnosis.

Although scripture indeed says `Be angry but do not sin...' (Eph 4:26), I suspect that 99% of the times when we are angry we are actually sinning too! Certainly we never read of the Lord Jesus losing his temper. In the much misrepresented incident of the cleansing of the temple it is clearly stated that Jesus made the whip of cords himself. This must have taken some time, and Christ's action was therefore premeditated, planned and thought out, and not a sudden burst of anger as is often suggested.

Never is there any hint of anger expressed by Jesus towards those who came to him for his healing, and we would do well to follow his example in our relationships with patients. `Love is not easily angered' (1 Cor 13:5 AV). So if we are, it is a sure indicator that we need to know more of God's love shed abroad in our hearts.

Lord, show me what it really is that makes me angry and
convict me of sin every time that it is my self-interest
and not your glory at stake. Make me more tolerant of
others than of myself and help me to discern the real
need that may lurk behind a barrage of whining complaints.

Further reading: Jn 2:13-17. 1 Cor 13:4-7.


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