So often we think of the Ten Commandments as a list of “thou shalt nots,” but it is so much more than a list of forbidden acts. It is permission to love God and to love His image bearers. In this sixth word, we are invited to unwrap the gift of protecting life physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but in order to genuinely do this, we must ask God to show us where we’ve allowed selfishness to invade the hidden recesses of our hearts. We pray with the psalmist David, “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression” (Psalm 19:12-13).
The Hebrew word for presumptuous is zed, which comes from the root word zud, meaning to boil up, to seethe, to act proudly or rebelliously. In Psalm 19, David is asking God to reveal and root out anything in him that will boil over into an ungodly response to others that will zap the life out of their spirits. So, how can we partner with the Holy Spirit to guide our responses when anger takes root in our hearts?
Here are a few ideas to add to your list:
- Pray. Jesus did this, especially when faced with hard things. He slipped away to pray alone, and sometimes with His closest friends, to seek His Father’s will.
- Choose in advance how you will respond to someone who threatens to sour your spirit, so when your emotions threaten to boil over, you can pause, take a breath, and tell yourself, “I knew this was going to happen, and I have a plan for how to respond.”
- Pause to consider how Jesus sees the person who is getting under your skin. Jesus knew the hurt, doubt, and anger inside the hearts of His enemies, and yet He loved and forgave them even before they hurt Him.
- Ask yourself, “What is this person’s story? What might he or she be facing that could explain his or her behavior or words toward me?” Sometimes another person’s response has nothing to do with you but everything to do with the burden he or she is carrying.
- Seek reconciliation as far as it is possible with you.
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul urges believers “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling” to reflect God’s life-giving love. As we seek to an expansive obedience to God’s commandment You shall not murder, Ephesians 4 becomes a prayer for us.
Lord, we are Your willing servants, but we acknowledge that we are often pulled away from undivided devotion to You. We lean into the ways of this dark world that muddle up our thinking, harden our hearts, and speak lies about what is good and right. We want instead to lean into You as Your Spirit guides us to walk in the newness of life, in truth, and in all that is right and holy. You have named us “saints” and equipped as Your image bearers and ministers for Your glory. Your grace covers us. You ask us to walk with humility, gentleness, patience, and love and have called each of us into different roles to bring unity and peace to the body of believers. May we mature into accurate representatives of You to this wounded world that longs for rescue. Anchor us in Your truth. May we not be tossed to and fro by the waves of false doctrine, human cunning, and crafty, deceitful schemes of the enemy. May we always speak what is true with love. In our anger, let us not sin. Remind us to never end the day with our spirits fuming but to work out our differences with others. We don’t want the enemy to gain a foothold in our lives. Let only good words and kind actions come from our mouths and bodies that we will bring life and grace to others. You have sealed us for the day of redemption. May we not grieve Your Spirit but instead put away all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice, showing kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness to everyone!