But You Promised!

We used to live in a culture that believed that the marriage vow was a promise that a couple kept until death separated them in this life. On May 24, 1969, Rosemary and I made that promise and covenant to each other before God. Legally, two witnesses were required to sign the marriage license confirming our commitment. We each made a vow, saying, “I take you Rosemary/Harry to be my lawful wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.” Our troth was a pledge of faithfulness for a lifetime. After fifty-three years, we still intend to keep our promise until the end of our lives.

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When is Anger a Problem?

We remember that the Lord’s anger was on display in the temple with the money changers. However, I easily forget other times that the Lord was angry, and why. He also became angry at hardheartedness: “And He looked around at them (Pharisees) with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart” (Mark 3:5). This is our Lord, meek and lowly in heart and described as being angry. Can you imagine the power in that look? James R. Edwards, in his commentary on The Gospel According to Mark, says that Mark’s description of Jesus’ anger is “. . . graphic and passionate. He uses three strong Greek words that appear nowhere else in the Gospel.” Jesus was “angry;” He was “deeply distressed” at their “stubborn” hearts.”

In that look was a mixture of indignation and deep sorrow. So, you can be angry and not sin! The Lord’s anger was tempered by grief. In the anger He was deeply grieved at the hardening of their hearts, at the Pharisees spiritual insensibility and obstinacy with healing on the Sabbath. The Lord is angry, and also “grieved.” I believe that at the same time He was angry, He felt sorry for their rigidness, for their hardness that would one day bring eternal destruction. What we see is that Jesus’ anger was momentary, and as we know, His grief is a continuous response; it is abiding. This is righteous indignation at its best.

However, Jesus’ anger is not limited to the Pharisees, but equally describes His response to His own disciples. Jesus comes to the disciples walking on the water while they are having a tough time rowing against the wind. At seeing Him they are described as being terrified. As He gets in the boat the wind ceased. Mark describes their utter astonishment as a lack of understanding Jesus’ true identity, all coming from their “hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:52).

When the disciples forgot to bring bread (Mark 8:14-21) with them in the boat, Jesus challenges them. “Do you not yet perceive or understand (He had fed thousands with a few loaves)? Are your hearts hardened?” After witnessing great miracles, the disciples’ hearts are still partially closed to the depths of Jesus’ teaching and identity.

Paul ties the hardness of heart to ignorance (Eph. 4:18). Such ignorance is not a lack of education. Some people have a brilliant IQ, but their intellect is wasted and futile when combined with a hardness of heart towards Truth. 

Charles Spurgeon asks, “Do we grieve the Savior because of the hardness of our hearts? He reminds us that we may go to church, read our Bibles, and be practicing Christians, and “. . . yet the Lord Jesus may be grieved with us because of the hardness of our heart.” He goes on to state that “. . . we may have hardness of heart, and yet keep quite clear of gross sins.”

Hardness of heart can come upon us slowly, so that repentance isn’t on our mind. Therefore, we must take care over little things. And we are told “. . . exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today.’ That none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). Also, remember we are to, “Examine yourself, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?unless indeed you fail to meet the test” (2 Cor. 13:5). Search your own heart. Do I get angry at someone for what they have done to me without grieving their heart’s condition of hardness? Does that not indicate a level of ignorance with regards to the Word of God? The great enemy within that we must fight in response to the Lord’s divine love and justice is hardness of heart and indifference to the Lord’s grace and mercy shown to us that we must show to others.


Who Is in Control?

“Most of us have never really understood that Christianity is not a self-help religion meant to enable moral people to become more moral. We don’t need a self-help book; we need a Savior. We don’t need to get our collective act together; we need death and resurrection and the life-transforming truths of the gospel.” -Counsel From the Cross, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson

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