PRINCIPLE: “When you’re mad at your computer, remember your coffee.”
Technology – can’t live with it but can’t live without it! It’s great when it works but when it doesn’t, well…my pastoral vocabulary isn’t adequate to describe the frustration. Perhaps you’ve been there. Recently I was working on my computer and it was one of those days when it was running slow – very slow – slower than molasses – slower than a sumo wrestler in the 100 meters. Get the idea? I didn’t know why, and really didn’t care why – I just wanted it to run at normal speed. Finally, in frustration – no, make that in anger – I slammed my fist on the desk as I cried out “Come on! Give me a break here!” – or something like that. And as my fist hit the desk it also hit my coffee mug and tipped it over. Coffee everywhere but in the mug. I didn’t want to admit it but it served me right. I knew immediately that “When you’re mad at your computer, remember your coffee.”
Anger is a dangerous emotion – and loss of anger seldom, if ever, results in anything good. As Paul wrote (Eph. 4:26-27 NLT) “And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” Anger is sometimes okay but how we process it is the key. Hitting my fist on the desk was a sign that I was letting anger control me. Sure, it harmed no one but me. But the frightening thought is, if the state of my computer can fill me with anger and sin, how close am I to letting my feelings towards others do the same? And then the damage is not so minimal. Paul understood this. That’s why he continued (30) “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live… Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior…” Once the devil sees anger, he jumps in and tries to take over. James wrote (1:19-20) “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters… Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” I let a stupid computer control me – the devil had a foothold and he loved it. I was not very righteous. “When you’re mad at your computer, remember your coffee.”
Moving forward, I have resolved to try to remember this when I sense the anger rising within me. Fortunately, I do not have to do it all by myself. It’s more than just remembering “When you’re mad at your computer, remember your coffee.” Listen to the advice of James and Paul: “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry…Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you…” As God in Christ forgave me! God should be so angry with me – He has a million reasons to be. But in Jesus He forgave me – once for all, forever. How can I, then, unleash anger towards another? Let my quickness be to listen and my slowness be to respond. And how can I help this happen? Be kind to those who stir my anger, tenderhearted towards those who oppose me, and forgiving to those who offend me. The Holy Spirit is ever present to help me. A quick prayer to Him is all it takes.
So perhaps I should change the principle to “When you’re mad at your computer, remember to pray.” Not a bad idea. But then, it just doesn’t sound so dramatic. So for now I’ll stick with this: “When you’re mad at your computer, remember your coffee.” Besides, every time I drink coffee I’ll remember my computer anger – and that will remind me to pray. In fact, how different would I be if with every cup of coffee I drink, I asked the Holy Spirit to pour into me His kindness, tender heartedness, and forgiveness? Quite different, I’m sure! “When you’re mad at your computer, remember your coffee.”