“What’s in your Pocket?” – Devotional with Chaplain Smith

Chaplain Shelby Smith served at a local church for 19 years before joining Arkansas Heart Hospital. Here, he has the opportunity to meet the spiritual needs of patients, their families and our staff. In addition to offering prayer and encouragement, Chaplain Shelby Smith shares a weekly devotional. 

Have you noticed people seem to be more easily offended these days? Such as restaurant customers offended for having to wait for service, or the worker who is offended because he was asked to work extra hours. What about the person who is angry at the police officer for pulling him over for speeding? Or anger toward politicians for supporting something others disagree with? 

People can be especially offended if you express a viewpoint different than theirs. It seems recently even during a short conversation with someone, you will hear about something that offends or makes them angry. 

I recently listened to a sermon by Craig Groeschel, the pastor of Life Church in Oklahoma, where he spoke on, “Being Offended and Anger.” Here is a portion of that sermon: 

“Is your anger making you more like Jesus? Is it making you more joyful? Is it pointing others to the intimacy and life and freedom and joy of Christ? Is it making you more loving? Is it drawing others into a more joyful life? 

We find written in James 1:19, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” 

Whether our anger is at some small offense or at a major betrayal, an opposing political view or at someone who cut you off in traffic, human anger does not produce the righteousness that God wants.  

Now you might argue that your anger is righteous anger — anger over sin or anger at things that break God’s heart. You may have that kind of anger, but have you noticed most of the time when we have righteous anger it is about someone else’s sin? It may not be a righteous anger after all, but self-righteous anger.  

As a Christ follower, it may be easy for me to criticize someone else’s foul language and ignore my own spiritual pride and gossip; easy for me to judge someone else’s sexual sin and ignore my gluttony and selfishness. We all tend to think our anger is justified. 

Ask yourself these questions:  

  • Are people drawn to the grace and goodness of God because of my anger?  
  • Is my anger bringing me more joy?  
  • Is it blessing and enhancing my marriage?  
  • Is it giving my children a life they want to emulate?  
  • Is my anger a blessing to others or criticizing others? 
  • If we claim to be followers of Christ, we will eventually have to make a decision. We will need to decide when we get angry. 

Do we want to make a point, or do we want to make a difference? Too many people simply want to make a point; they want to win the argument.  

If we want to make a difference, then we will need a different attitude and a different philosophy in dealing with the wrongs of the world. Rather than letting our flesh, feelings and emotions direct our actions, we need to allow the spirit of God to direct our actions. That way we are not just making a point, not just trying to win an argument, but trying to win people to the grace and goodness of Jesus. There is a big difference. 

Matthew 22:35-39 tells the story of a smart guy, an expert in Jewish law, who was in a conversation with Jesus. He asked Jesus a question, “What is the most important thing?” Jesus replied, “Love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is just as important, love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Jesus is telling us that we are to love God with everything in us. Every fiber of our being should worship and glorify Him in everything we do. And the way we love Him is by loving his people and showing them grace and having empathy and compassion for people. 

You might be asking, “Practically, how do I deal with being easily offended and my anger?” 

I believe there are a couple of practical things you can do. Lower expectations of others; people are not perfect, and neither are you. Raise your gratitude for God’s grace; He forgave us when we didn’t deserve forgiveness. 

In John chapter 8, there is a story of a woman caught in the act of adultery. The group of men who brought her before Jesus said the law commanded them to stone her to death. They all had their pockets filled with stones prepared to carry out her sentence.  

Then, they asked Jesus what he thought. It is written that Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. As they questioned him again, Jesus said, “Let anyone of you who has not sinned throw the first stone.”  

Slowly, they began to drop their stones and walk away one at a time until there were no accusers left. Apparently, they realized they also did not measure up and decided they too wanted grace. 

Let me ask you: What’s in your pocket? Is it filled with stones or is it filled with grace? 

Jesus commanded us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. If we applied this verse to our daily lives, we might all be less offended and less angry.