The Selah That Keeps Us From Sinning

There is a very natural emotion that we humans have when someone has hurt us, but if we don’t pause (Selah), that natural emotion can lead us into sin. David has good counsel for angry people in Psalm 4. 

Many scholars think that Psalm 4 is a continuation—or a part 2—of Psalm 3. As you will notice in the preface of Psalm 3, David is on the run from his son Absalom, who is trying to steal the kingdom of Israel from him. 

Look at the swing of David’s emotions:

  • Troubled/sad (v. 1) 
  • Anger (v. 4)
  • Contentment (v. 7)
  • Peace (v. 8)

The first time David tells his readers to Selah pause is between verses 2 and 3. The change is almost an about-face: 

Look at this: look who got picked by God! He listens the split second I call to Him. Complain if you must, but don’t lash out. Keep your mouth shut, and let your heart do the talking. Build your case before God and wait for His verdict (vv. 3-5 in The Message). 

My friend Josh Schram shared these truths: 

  1. Don’t sin by letting anger control you. 
  2. It’s right to be angry, but it’s not right to sin. 
  3. When someone hurts us, it’s tempting to break God’s law. We can almost justify it, but it is a sin to give in to anger. 

“Search your heart and be silent”Selah. This pause gives us hope that we can “build your case before God and wait for His verdict.” 

In Romans 12:17-21, Paul gives similar counsel when dealing with enemies:  As far as it depends on you…

  • Don’t repay evil for evil. 
  • Do repay evil with doing what’s right. 
  • Don’t take revenge. 
  • Do let God handle it. 
  • Don’t mistreat your enemies. 
  • Do bless your enemies. 
  • Don’t be overcome by evil. 
  • Do overcome evil by doing good. 

Since David let his anger go, that also means he didn’t sin! His clear conscience meant he could lie down and sleep in peace. 

You cannot hold a grudge and peace in the same heart. 

Please join me next week as we continue our look at the Selahs in the Book of Psalms. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—15 Ways To Defuse Tense Relationships (Proverbs 15)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

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

Here’s how to defuse potentially volatile situations with other people—

  1. Speak gently (vv. 1, 28)
  2. Speak truthfully (v. 2)
  3. Remember that God is watching (vv. 3, 9, 11, 25, 26)
  4. Speak helpful words or stay silent (vv. 4, 7, 14, 23, 30)
  5. Receive correction from others (vv. 5, 12, 31, 32)
  6. Find ways to add value to other people (v. 6)
  7. Ask for God’s help (vv. 8, 29)
  8. Be gentle (v. 10) 
  9. Develop emotional intelligence (vv. 13, 15, 21)
  10. Don’t envy others (vv. 16, 17, 27)
  11. Guard against getting angry (v. 18)
  12. Remember: good relationships take work (vv. 19, 24)
  13. Use all the wisdom you have… (v. 20)
  14. …get all the wisdom that others have too (v. 22)
  15. Stay humble (v. 33)

Relationships can be one of the greatest treasures in our life, or they can be one of the biggest disappointments in our life. 

Put the ball in your court, and YOU work on making your relationships treasures! 

We Usually Believe The Opposite

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. (Psalm 145:8)

Let those words sink in because most of us live like the exact opposite is true. Check out this 2-minute explanation …

A Leader’s Appropriate Anger

…he became very angry (1 Samuel 11:6).

Sometimes we think of godly leaders as always being cool, calm, and collected. But to remain calm when the situation calls for a vigorous response is unbecoming of the title of “godly” leader, and may even be a sin.

The Israelite city of Jabesh-Gilead had been surrounded by the forces of King Nahash. His terms of surrender to these Israelites was unduly harsh: “I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you as a disgrace to all Israel! (v. 2).

When this message got to King Saul, “the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became very angry.” He sent messengers to all of Israel demanding all the able-bodied men to come out to join his army in counter-attacking King Nahash.

Notice that what prompted Saul’s anger was God’s Spirit coming upon him. Since Israel was about to be disgraced, Saul had to act! Also notice this: “And the Lord made the people afraid of Saul’s anger, and all of them came out together as one” (v. 7).

The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is apathy. God expresses strong emotions without sinning. When the Spirit of God made Saul angry at the oppression and potential disgrace of His people, Saul acted. To not act—to shrug his shoulders in apathy and say, “That’s not my problem”—would have been a sin.

Sometimes Christians want to suppress a strong feeling of hate or anger. But when God hates something or is angry at something, we would do well to pay attention to that and feel and act as God would have us act. The Bible tells us not to sin in our anger, but it never tells us not to be angry. 

Anything that is keeping someone from God’s love or God’s presence should arouse our righteous anger to do righteous things.

A mark of a godly leader is one who knows the right things to hate.

This is part 19 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

Correctly Handling Your Strong Emotions

And it grieved me bitterly… (Nehemiah 13:8).

Leaders believe so strongly in what they have been called by God to do, that opposition to God’s plan arouses very strong emotions in a leader!

When Nehemiah was angered at those who either deliberately or unintentionally sinned, his anger brought swift and decisive action—

  • He threw away people’s stuff
  • He issued explicit commands
  • He confronted other leaders
  • He issued strong threats
  • He beat people up (really!)
  • He excommunicated

Yet in all these actions he did not sin. He prayed in between many of these episodes, “God, remember what I have done. Show me mercy. Reward me for this good I have done.” And nowhere after these prayers do we see God rebuking Nehemiah for mishandling his emotional responses.

A mark of a godly leader is one who handles his strong emotions in a God-honoring way.

A leader’s prayer: Father, in my anger keep me from sin. May even my strongest of emotional responses bring glory to You.

This is Part 12 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts by clicking here.

Break Free From Porn—5 Quotes That Will Help You

The Porn CircuitThe Porn Circuit is a great book to make you aware of the dangers of pornography. You can read my full book review of this free downloadable book here, and check out the first set of quotes I shared by clicking here.

Here are some additional quotes specifically to help you break free from the hold pornography has on your life.

Your #1 strategy … LEARN TO HATE PORN!

Hate what it does to you, to your relationships, and to those involved in sex trafficking because of the porn industry.

#2 … Create some positive activities you can do when you’re tempted to look at porn.

“The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making logical part of the brain, and each time that a person resists temptation and each time a positive habit is reinforced, the prefrontal cortex gets stronger. That means a person’s willpower grows and the cues and cravings for porn use grow weaker.”

“This approach (of introducing positive habits) makes plastic sense because it grows a new brain circuit that gives pleasure and triggers dopamine release which, as we have seen, rewards the new activity and consolidates and grows new neural connections. This new circuit can eventually compete with the older one, and according to use it or lose it, the pathological networks will weaken. With this treatment we don’t so much ‘break’ bad habits as replace bad behaviors with better ones.” —Dr. Norman Doidge

“Whatever rewarding activity is pursued, it needs to be an activity that is reoccurring. Building new rewarding neural pathways requires time and ongoing repetition:

  1. Neurons that fire together wire together. Repeating a pleasurable activity instead of the compulsive activity, such as porn use, forms a new circuit that is gradually reinforced instead of the compulsion.
  2. Neurons that fire apart wire apart. When a person refuses to act on a compulsion, like porn and masturbation, it weakens the link between the activity and the idea that it will provide relief.”

#3 … Start using the 3-second rule.

“When watching TV, walking through the mall, or driving past billboards, temptation can strike when least expected. Many therapists recommend using the 3-Second Rule, which involves three steps:

  1. Alert: Realize that you see something inappropriate. It may only take a split-second to recognize a tempting situation.
  2. Avert: Close your eyes or look away. These first two steps should be instantaneous.
  3. Affirm: Give yourself a mental high-five to congratulate the effort. Say to yourself, ‘I saw that by mistake, and I quickly looked away. I’ve been clean for (xx number of days) and I’m going to stay that way.’”

3-Second Rule

#4 … Don’t forget to watch out for H.A.L.T. times.

“Physical care is vital to vigilance. HALT is the acronym often used by therapists to remind people of when they can be most vulnerable it stands for: hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Simply going to bed on a regular schedule to get a good night’s rest can help one’s brain be more focused on positive habits and more alert to fight temptations. Not only eating but also eating well can improve mood and feelings of well-being. Regular exercise keeps the mind more focused, the body feeling great, and improve sleep.”

Thursdays With Oswald—Your Thought Life DOES Matter

Oswald ChambersThis is a periodic series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Your Thought Life DOES Matter

“Beware of saying, ‘Oh well, it doesn’t matter much what I think about in secret’; it does, for the opportunity will come when what you think about in secret will find expression and spurt out in an act. The Bible always speaks of sin as it appears in its final analysis. Jesus does not say, ‘You must not covet because it will lead to stealing’; He says, ‘You must not covet because it is stealing.’ He does not say, ‘You must not be angry with your brother because it will lead to murder’; He says, ‘You must not be angry with your brother because it is murder.’”

From Our Portrait In Genesis

This is why the Apostle Paul tells us to take all of our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). What you are thinking about IS determining who you will become in the future. Capture those negative, unbiblical thoughts and replace them with the truth found in God’s Word.

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