In a previous post I shared how venting – angry outbursts to another person about something or someone that has caused us frustration/hurt/etc. – hurts the one doing the venting. It demonstrates what the Bible calls a foolish approach to dealing with anger (see Proverbs 29:11). It also means allowing ourselves to walk in the control of our flesh, rather than walking in self-control, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit working in us (see Galatians 5:16, 22-26). One other way I noted that venting hurts us is that it causes us to look for those who will give a sympathetic ear to our venting (band-wagoners), rather than those who will call us to spiritual accountability, a duty of a brother or sister in Christ.
In that previous post I also indicated that venting about our anger/hurt/frustration at another person not only hurts the one venting, but also the Body of Christ. So, how does “venting” hurt the Body of Christ? Here are at least a couple of ways:
1) Venting delays, or event prevents, true restoration from taking place with someone who has offended us. Many times, a “vent” reveals our anger or frustration at another person who has done something to frustrate or hurt us. If I simply go and vent to someone else about the situation, my relationship with the offender is not restored, which keeps us from walking in the unity of heart, mind and spirit which Paul encouraged (see Philippians 2:1-2) and for which Jesus prayed (see John 17:20-23). If we want to walk in a biblical way, we will deal with our anger/hurt/frustration by going directly to the person who has offended us, in a spirit of grace and gentleness, sharing how they have hurt us and seeking restoration with them. This is what Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 18:15.
2) Venting to a brother or sister in Christ about another brother or sister in Christ gives the listener an opportunity to sin. As I noted in the previous post, most of my vents are not designed to get Christian brotherly counsel, but rather band-wagoner support. So, when I am spewing my frustration about another brother or sister in Christ, I am often – intentionally or unintentionally – calling on my listener to join my perspective about the situation. So, I am giving the listening brother or sister the opportunity to think ill of another brother or sister with whom they previously had no problem, based upon a situation in which the listener was not even involved. If I had simply gone to the one who originally offended me (as seen in the point above), this new person would have never been involved in the situation. When I involve a third party in the situation, I give them the opportunity to take personal offense against the person who has offended me, therefore giving them the opportunity for resentment and bitterness to dwell in their hearts toward the one who has offended me.
As Christians, we are called to promote unity within the Body of Christ. When we practice venting to others our anger about someone who has hurt us, we hinder that unity within the Body. In fact, we not only hinder unity between us and the one who offended us, but we also potentially broaden a lack of unity by bringing in un-involved third parties to our frustration/hurt/anger. Simply walking according to the biblical admonitions of forgiving one another and seeking unity and reconciliation with those who offend us will prevent both of the negative impacts upon the Body of Christ noted above.
As is always the case, these demands of the Gospel cut against the grain of our fleshly sentiments and reactions. We don’t want to go to those who have offended us. That confrontation can be very uncomfortable for us. And sometimes, if we are honest, what we really want is to hurt them like they have hurt us. However, we can rejoice that God hasn’t left us to obey the Gospel demands in our own strength. Because Jesus died and rose again, and because He has given His Spirit to live within us, we can walk in gentleness and grace toward those who offend us, seeking reconciliation with them directly, rather than venting our anger/hurt/frustrations to a third party. When we do it God’s way – rather than venting to others – we honor God, promote unity within the Body of Christ, find reconciliation with those who have offended us, and avoid giving other brothers and sisters opportunities to sin in the process. Living according to God’s design, by the power of God’s Spirit, is always for our good and His glory.
(Photo courtesy of Jussi on Flickr)