Be Ye Angry and Sin Not
By Fred Pruitt
Recently a small number of men met informally in Louisville, mainly just to fellowship and wait on the Spirit for a fresh Word. No one knew what we would talk about or how it would go. There was no “agenda.”
As usual, the Spirit did give the Word, quite a few in fact. Over the course of Friday evening through Sunday noon, the Spirit spoke through every person assembled and everyone both gave and received.
However, if this is dirty laundry I’m not afraid to show it, every moment of every meeting was not “calm and peaceful,” nor were we spared the occasional expressions of strong emotion, some of it in apparent conflict, and a few ruffled feathers because of it. It was the Spirit Who brought us there, and the Spirit Who carried us through.
Most “Christian” people are afraid of strong emotion, especially anger. Anger seems to defeat many, because it gets the blood boiling, and even if we thought we said what needed to be said, most of us do not like ourselves when we express anger. So we have a hard time reconciling our “sudden outbursts” with Christ in us, and most will agree with our negative self-assessment.
It didn’t happen overnight with me, but I have settled into “my own skin” to the point that I am not afraid of myself. Not afraid of any emotions I might “feel” and express. Not afraid of any thoughts that fly through my consciousness. Not afraid of my decisions. Not afraid of anything about myself. Why? Because I Am Who I Am.
Though there were a few more Words on that weekend, the issue I mention above was a big part of it.
After the meeting I wrote one of the brothers. He and I had experienced some conflict with each other, and after it was over, it came to me what was happening in our little tiff. The rest is outlined below in mine (which has been greatly expanded) to him and his response below.
Dear brother ______,
First I just wanted to say how precious you are to me as a brother in Jesus. And an “equal” brother, too, I might add, because none of us are above or beneath another. All of us are equal body parts of the same Head, Christ, and as Paul told us, “in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Phil 2:3b). In my life the only way I have found to do that is to truly see Christ by faith in the other, and as each of us are Christ in us in faith, therefore, though to this generation it seems like a bad word, still I will say that even as we serve Christ Himself, in the same way we serve Christ in each other. I believe that is true in you, and in me, and in all who name the name of Jesus, as well as everyone else out in the world in whom Christ is present as the “Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:4,9). In other words, we each are the servants of all.
I have been thinking of you since our times with each other over the weekend, both in the group and alone. I have come to see a couple of things I thought I might share with you.
First, as I pondered some of the stuff said, the only remark that I said to you, in the meeting, which was a bit ruffled up in my own mind, was when I said to you, “Deal with it!”
On the surface, even to me, it sounded like a very strident thing to say. I am certain it must’ve struck others that way. Myself, I don’t “like” for anyone to talk to me that way, and I do not particularly want to talk that way to anyone else. But what I “like” or “do not like” is often not a major point.
As some kept pointing out, we referred to our gathering as some sort of “iron sharpening.” “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” (Prov 27:17). No one planned that for a theme, but it kept coming up so I am sure the Spirit interjected that in there. Part of that meaning is that we are somewhat “lambs for the slaughter” in being “instructional” for each other. By that I mean that we leave our guard down and as we are “ourselves” with each other, in a sense “warts and all,” we all learn to see Christ in each other.
One of the things that came to me when I was talking with ________ on Friday night, after he and I had had our usual and annual “row” with each other over whether we are “we-thinking,” or “I-thinking.” It came to me that what is called for in a business corporate sense, a complete and total sense of “we” as a team, no one being “individualistic,” which is where _______’s “we-thinking” (by his own admission) comes from, does not work exactly the same in Christ. I first heard this from Norman but it took me a while to understand and trust it. But as I look back on it, he encouraged each of us to be the “strongest I” possible, and in that often spark-laden atmosphere of human beings being fully human beings, each safe in Christ and walking in the Spirit, some sort of synthesis occurs by the Spirit. I have seen that happen over and over and over again through the years. I believe that happened this past weekend.
That brings me back to my “outburst.” (And yours!) It was really what you kept questioning, and I kept pondering, that caused me, I think, to better understand it. You kept questioning reactions “in the heat of the moment.” And when you think about it, that’s where pretty much all of us get caught, isn’t it? We like ourselves and how we behave, no questions, no condemnation, as long as strong emotion (usually regarded as “negative) doesn’t rear up and seemingly take over the helm. But here and there it seems tempers flare up, people make remarks sometimes we wish we could take back, or that “hurts another’s feelings” but we feel we can’t take back, and we “feel bad” about ourselves or wish we hadn’t done it maybe, and others will often be quick to agree with that self-assessment, even if we have yet ourselves to make that self-assessment.
I am not really trying to “save face” here, because it is easy for me to apologize. I’m married; I do it a hundred times a day! But I really believe there is a “principle” here to see.
And that is this – Why is it we can trust the truth of Who we truly are, Christ as Fred or Christ as _____, in the easy to handle times, in the times we have where we can “consider” an answer, or even to “check ourselves” sometimes, but we cannot trust Him in us as us IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT?????
I am certainly meaning nothing blasphemous, but frankly, what good is it if we cannot trust Him in us as us ESPECIALLY in those times? I know you experience this because you told me you do not “like yourself” when you get angry, etc. Hey – ME TOO! But “liking myself” or “not liking myself” in any given moment is off point. (I will point out that “liking ourselves” or not is often linked with the thought that others “do not like” our behavior and we feel embarrassed about it.) But, where is our faith????
I mean, from a human standpoint, the “heat of the moment” we might see as our weakest moment, because we do not feel “in control!” Where did the Spirit “go” while we had our little outburst? As I pointed out Sunday morning, I went back the night before just to be sure this scripture was still there – “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” (Eph 4:26). Where is the “dividing line” between righteous anger and sinful anger? Only the Spirit knows, and He is faithful to let us know if necessary. Not our worry.
One more time I will say, I am not trying to justify my behavior but I believe it might serve as a principle, in the elusive “ability” to trust ourselves in trying situations, where we are reacting to and for the current moment. As I often mention, when we are fathers in Christ we are also as soldiers, who endure hardship as soldiers do. And battle is most often chaos, and people who survive and win have to think on their feet while being shelled and fired upon and the plans have gone awry. Soldiers at that point become “one” with their training which has been drilled into them in months of instruction and practice before they face actual combat with an enemy. They just have to rise up and BE who they are – soldiers who do their duty and live to win and protect their fellow soldiers, while hopefully living themselves, but all soldiers who face combat know they can die at any moment. That is a parable of what we often face “in the world” on a daily basis, and I believe an important principle to know when we are “under fire.”
And in the heat of THAT moment, on Saturday night, when I said to you, “Deal with it,” what I have expressed above was behind it. And when you said, “Don’t expect me just to roll over and play dead, I’m going to fight you,” I truly meant it when I said, “Good! Exactly!” Stick up for yourself in Christ” – but I’ll also add now, that we remember also to see Christ in the other.
The fact that these reactions and supposedly “impulsive” comments, as we see them in the obedience of faith, occur, does not in any way nullify the other facts about us, that, as Paul instructed and we also receive in faith, that we are “kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” (Rom 12:10). All of this is working in each of us at the same time.
I hope you might find something in this, but I welcome your questions if you have them.
The other thing I wanted to mention is my admission to you, in the meeting, that I was aware of “singling” you out two or three times, and I was as baffled about it as you were. But I did have a hint of it that night of what was driving my (as you said I was) “picking on you,” that became sharper for me as I have pondered these last couple of days.
It is this, brother. Every time I have been with you or received an email from you, it seems you are looking to have questions answered so that your own mind can be settled in the validity of what we all have been sharing with you since you first appeared several years ago. Though I know that you have asked me and many others question after question after question, I have never heard you once express, for you, the truth of Who YOU are, and the faith “stand” you have made and are standing in, come hell or high water!!! You may very well have come to that and I am not aware of it, but still, in my limited experience of communication with you, I have never heard that from your own mouth or pen. Have I missed it?
Or, does it still remain for you to take that final leap of faith that you ARE Christ, now, warts and all, in your form, He expressed AS YOU?
If I have missed that, my apologies. But I have to bring it up because I can only “picture you” in my mind in a questioning this and questioning that mode, trying to grasp it all intellectually so you can have ammunition to argue about it with those who are opposing you, all the while trying to convince yourself, also, that it is true. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with that, and always continue to ask questions if you need to do so. We can only be “fully persuaded,” when we “know” we are fully persuaded. That is another gift of faith.
But there can also come a day when the questions can stop because they have all resolved into the one Person Who takes care of them all, expressed scripturally by such as Gal 2:20; Col 1:27, 28; John 10:30; Rom 8:2, 9; John 14:10. It is when those passages cease to be conceptual and we take them as our own truth and reality by faith, by a specific word of faith I will say, and make a stand that this is who we are, whether we know the answers to any of those questions or not.
I’ve heard it said by many that such faith confessions, commitments, etc., are unnecessary, since in Christ we already are that, and we just know it and live out of it. Technically, that is true. But here is what is happening. The Spirit is raising our consciousness. But He doesn’t just “zap” us and “poof,” we are living in a new consciousness.
A new consciousness is always built on something. The “something” upon which each new consciousness in Christ is founded, is first of all a deepening of the one Truth that upholds them all, that we are not taking a new consciousness or learning this or that, but that we have “taken” a Person, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and it is His Life that we are.
Still, in whatever way we “knew” ‘we are one’ before, there is a further deepened “knowing” of the same oneness. And secondly, because “we” are not left out of all this as if we were riding in a streetcar while somebody else drives, we realize He is growing up as Safe Sons, understanding not just the acts of God, but coming into a consciousness of the ways of God, and that we ARE as He IS. Jesus even grew into knowing Who He was, as the Hebrews writer expressed, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” (Heb 5:8). He later speaks the same thing of us in whom the Son lives: “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb 5:14).
Now obviously, to have “their senses exercised to discern both good and evil,” means experiencing both and discerning both, and discerning is a function of consciousness. To “discern” something means to see something that is not readily apparent. While the apparent stares us in the face, discerning sees behind the scenery. Like human babies, we do not start out that way. We only know what stares us in the face. But the more we grow up physically, the more the landscape into which we are born begins to fill in the detail. Our “discernment” grows.
One day a person gave us a check drawn on a bank in town I’d never been to before. I checked out the address and headed over there, only to realize when I got there that I had passed it hundreds of times before for years, but it had never stood out before! Having to cash the check brought it to our attention, and seeing the bank in person reminded us we had seen it all along, but it had never become “particular” in the landscape until the day we needed to go there.
The other part of the “exercise of our senses” is in the exercise of our personhood and freedom, which means we are fully Christ as us utilizing the royal authority of our Personhood by declaring the decrees, by speaking the Word of God, as it pertains to ourselves and most especially to others. The function of the Son is the Word, and on earth HE is the Word in action. The Father spoke the LOGOS, and all creation is upheld in THE WORD. Each of us are further created expressions of THE WORD. And man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God! We have become Co-Creators in Christ, exercising OUR royal authority in the freedom of being completely ourselves.
Consider this: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Prov 21:1).
Who does the writer speak of? In an earlier way of thinking, I saw that verse meaning anyone who had authority over me, whether state or church, and to believe that my “fate” by them was of the Lord. But now I see it differently. Now I have realized that He calls us the “kings of the earth.”
Not kings of countries and governments, but each of us spiritual kings in our own right, because HE is King, and as He is, so are each of us. Kings decide what must be done, what direction to take, what provisions are needed and what to do to supply them. Being king is not an easy job. Among many of the Biblical expressions that really tell the deep truth about Christ and us, one of them is this: the scriptures call us kings before God – each of us! And kings have a domain, and their domain is subject to them. But this kind of kingship is the opposite of the worldly kingship. In the world, people are “subjects” of a king, and serve the king. In Christ, the subjects are friends and brothers, and the king serves them all. Therefore, each of us as kings, I believe will find great confirmation in the verse quoted above from Proverbs.
So I just toss that out to you. Somehow I feel like either it is for you to make that stand maybe for the first time, or maybe to re-establish that confession in you if you have made it before, because it truly is the center of everything, where really inwardly questions cease, though outwardly we still ask plenty of them, but it is from a different perspective from before.
And to finish, I’ll just tell you what Norman said in my presence to someone I had brought to Louisville, who told him when she was leaving that some of the “concepts” heard there were hard for her. He said, “My dear, just take what the Lord gives you and throw the rest out!” My word to you as well!
All my love,
Thanks for your letter, Yes your right I was a big questioner and I can see how you could wonder did I ever take the leap of faith that its Christ living as me.
The iron sharpening iron worked on me again afresh in Louisville. It was clear again to me that I had gone places in my thinking believing I was a wrong self.
I was thinking, “Fred is picking on me, Fred is out to get me!”
Well the truth is I’m sure plenty of people will shout at me will try to get at me, I’m sure for the rest of my life, but if I take it personally and think, oh there must be something wrong me? Why is Fred picking on me poor old me? There is something wrong with me? I’ll be on a road to know where….
So it’s all good Fred, and I’m really glad we had our row because it just brought out the truth…
Thanks again for your letter, and I cannot wait until we get together again.
Very Kind Regards ___________