Sermon Illustrations - Tag: Hebrews 12:15
Posted by Douglas on Feb 10, 2006

I have three brothers. No sisters. Occasionally people would say to my mother, "Four boys? Wow! I bet you wish you had a daughter!"

And my mother would say, "No, not really."

"Really? Why not?"

"Because I teach sixth grade." Now, that would seem like a bit of a non-sequiter, but then my mom would explain, "When boys get mad at each other, they have a big explosion, maybe they throw a punch or two, and then ten minutes later it's all over and they're friends again. With the girls it's not like that. With the girls, when they get mad, it festers and simmers underneath, and it sometimes goes on for months before they get over it. And those months are downright miserable for everyone around them."

It's the difference between a quick explosion and a slow burn. And although that may be the general rule for sixth graders, it doesn't always break down into gender lines; sometimes it's the guys who have the slow burn, sometimes it's the girls who have the sudden and violent explosion.

And I suspect everyone leans toward one or the other of these personality types. Are you a violent exploder? Or a slow burner? It's important to understand which type you are, because your personality type affects how you handle stress and conflict. And there is a Bible verse for each of the personality types.

For the violent exploders we have this passage: 

1:19Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.James 1:19-20 (ESV)

If you are violent exploder, you must learn that anger is never your first response. In fact, it's never even your second response. Listen first, speak second, and anger comes last of all. Violent exploders occasionally put anger before speech, and often even before listening. But this kind of response achieves nothing...except injury and destruction.

For the slow burners, we have: 

12:15See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;Hebrews 12:15 (ESV)

The root of bitterness -- the deep-seated grudges and hatreds that fester in your soul -- these are just as destructive, perhaps even more destructive than the violent explosions. Because once bitterness grabs hold of you it never lets go. It burrows deeper and deeper and, as Hebrews says, defiles many. Not just you, but all the people around you.

Slow burner? Or violent exploder? Neither is good; both must be tamed for the sake of all.

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