Hindrances to Kindness

Posted by  | Friday, June 5, 2009  at 8:53 PM  
Great post Leah! I love it when someone makes a point and supports it with an applicable story.

In my last post, I mentioned that I would later write up a follow-up post on the three hindrances to kindness that are mentioned in Carolyn Mahaney's book "Feminine Appeal." Again, they are: Anger, Bitterness, and Judging. I have decided to hone in on and expound upon the one hindrance that steals away my kindness before all others: Anger. Not that it happens all that much, but when it does, boy my kindness flies out the window faster than I can blink.

Hindrance #1: Anger

As Matthew 15:18 says "what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart," Carolyn made the truthful observation that in a trying experience or a moment when we are "squeezed," it's not the experience that makes us unkind. That experience rather reveals the sin that was in our heart all along. Ouch! Dr. David Powlison offers this description to sinful anger: "I want my way and not God's, and because I can't have my way, I rage" (p. 120). James 4:1-2, "What causes quarrels and fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and not have."

Carolyn leads us to think about what it is that we're not getting? Peace and quiet, obedient children, to be right, an orderly house, someone to appreciate us and our hard work? When we don't get our way in these small daily instances, we feel this right, or as Leah said this "entitlement" to become unkind to prove a point or to stroke our own back a little. In teaching my two year old to be kind, other's focused, be genereous and empathetic, the Lord is constantly saying, "Hollie-- why don't you pay attention to what you're saying? Why don't YOU live out what you're trying to teach your two year old? Were you kind in that instance?"

Carolyn opens the chapter with a story, a story that is the PERFECT illustration for how anger steals away your kindness. I can't help but type out this excerpt to hit this point home:

"Entering my garage, I immediately detected a foul odor in the air; and it wasn't coming from the trashcans. The stench was spilling out of the freezer where the door hung slightly ajar. I opened it wide and was engulfed by a warm, offensive cloud. Strupefied, I gazed incredulously at the spoiled contents of my freezer. Pans of lasagna and chicken kiev and Mason jars brimming with marinara sauce -- all prepared and frozen to serve my family on busy days. Packages of boneless, skinless chicken breasts purchased at half price. Ground beef. Turkey, Steaks. Ice cream and juice. And then there was the fruit - blueberries, cherries, and blackberries I had painstakingly picked at a local farm and frozen for pies, muffins, and pancakes. Everything was thawed, mushy and rotten. Several hundred dollars worth of food. Innumberable hours of labor. All lost because someone had failed to close the freezer door properly. I was pretty sure I knew who the culprit was, and after a brief investigation my suspicions were confirmed. Countless times I had warned my daughter that slamming the freeer door only caused it to pop open again. But had she listened? No. Adn now because of her recklessness all of my carefully preserved food was wasted. I was one unhappy mom. My daughter had already left for work, but I spent the remainder of the morning and afternoon fuming over her heedless behavior. By the time she arrived home, I had a well-rehearsed lecture prepared. Actually, it was more like an interrogation except that she never had a chance to reply. My goal was to make her feel as condemned as possible for her unforgivable crime" (p. 117-118).

Boy am I glad that Carolyn has already gone through this, written about it and used it as a point in how anger can steal away our kindness, because for the record, if I had been Carolyn, I would be one fuming Mama, steam coming out the ears and all. I know the Lord will use this one story to help me choose kindness over anger in the many years that come. Knowing how much I love to prepare food from scratch, pick fruits from strawberry farms, and simply put value on healthy eating, had a whole freezer full of MY hardwork (notice my emphasis on "MY") been ruined by a careless act, there's no doubt in my mind, I would not have handled that situation in a way that honored and pleased the Lord more than my own anger and frustrations.

Carolyn's anger was not caused by her daughter leaving the freezer door open, but rather "her actions only exposed the reservoir of sinful demands in her heart: I have a right to benefit from the bounty in my freezer. I deserve to reap the fruit of all my labors. I do not want to have ot restock the freezer. I definitely do not want to clean it out. And most of all, I hope my daughter feels very guilty!" (p. 121) "As Dr. Powlison (paraphasing John Calvin) articulates: 'The evil in our desires often lies not in what we want but that we want it too much.' Carolyn's problem was that [she] wanted these desires satisfied more than I wanted to glorify God by being kind" (p.121) (Can I just pick myself up off the floor now? Whew. THAT was some serious truth!)

Scripture's Solution to Anger:

James 4: 6-10, " We must humble ourselves and submit to God." Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the sinfulness in your cravings when feeling tempted by anger. Ask yourself, "What do I want more than I want to please God?" Then we must confess and repent from these evil desires. The Holy Spirit WILL help us in our humility, as He promises in James 4:6, to turn from anger and cultivate kindness (p.121).

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