When Aggravation Accumulates
"Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity." Ephesians 4:26-27 (NASB)
I opened the door and smiled, "Four large pizzas, right?"
The look on the pizza guy's face told me the many teenagers in my back yard were about to be disappointed.
"Ummm, well, actually there's only two. Let me check your ticket ... oh, yeah you're supposed to have four. Give me 20 minutes and I'll be back with the other two." He explained.
I took the two he had and said, "No problem. The kids can start on these and have round two when you get back."
As I walked into the kitchen, my husband Art gave me a funny look. "I thought you ordered four pizzas."
"Yeah, the delivery guy forgot two but will be back in a few minutes. No big deal," I quipped with a shoulder shrug.
Art tilted his head. "You didn't even ask for a discount or coupons?"
"I felt bad for the guy. It's not a big deal to ask the kids to wait a few minutes," I replied with a smile.
Remembering the way I'd reacted earlier during a little "growth opportunity" we'd had, Art said, "Wow. I'd like to have that kind of grace."
Ouch. His point was well made. I'd gotten aggravated with something Art had done and let him know.
Why is it I'm so quick to give a gentle answer to a stranger but spew on those I love? I think it's because of accumulated impact.
This was the only time I'd ever seen the pizza guy. My emotions toward him were completely neutral. When he made a mistake, I was able to let it go.
But I have a history with Art. We do lots of life together. If I let aggravations collect, my emotions ratchet up creating more and more tension. Then, when something happens, I find it much harder to brush off and offer grace.
Accumulated aggravations equal accumulated impact.
Therefore, it's crucial I don't collect aggravations. I've heard many times: "Do not let the sun go down on your anger ..." (Ephesians 4:26) I know it. But honestly sometimes I ignore it. I collect aggravations because I'm too tired to talk. Or, I don't want to deal with it. Or, I try to convince myself it's not a big deal to go to bed mad.
But when I keep reading one more verse, Ephesians 4:27, I understand why I should deal with little aggravations when they are still little. They might not stay little long. Why? Because verse 27 finishes with a strong warning, "... and do not give the devil an opportunity."
The devil is just waiting for an opportunity. I picture him hissing, "Go to bed mad ... go to bed mad ... oh yes go to bed mad and give me an opportunity." That just sends shivers down my spine.
As it well should.
I love my husband. I get aggravated with my man. But I love him. So, I certainly don't want to open the door of opportunity for the devil to turn little aggravations into big ones.
I put down the pizza and kissed Art's cheek. "I love you and I'm sorry I didn't give you that kind of grace."
To which he replied back with a big smile, "I still think we should have asked for a discount or coupons."
Like I said, I love my man!
Dear Lord, I really want to follow Your example and live a life full of grace. Sometimes it is so hard to show grace to those closest to me. Help me. I don't want to give the devil any opportunities in my marriage, my relationships with my children, or in my friendships. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Think about the equation, accumulated aggravation = accumulated impact. Choose one relationship in your life. In what ways has allowing yourself to accumulate aggravations resulted in a lack of grace and possible strain in that relationship?
What actions can we take to safeguard our relationships against the devil's attempts to create conflict and separation?
Colossians 4:6, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (NIV)
1 Peter 5:8, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (NIV)