Don’t Fuel the Fire – At the Movies

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It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Is it? Is it truly a beautiful day in your own personal neighborhood?

In last weekend’s movie message, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder pointed out many things we can learn from Mr. Rogers. In the movie, he befriends a man named Lloyd who has been living an unhappy, troubled life due to lingering pain from many past hurts.

We’ve likely all dealt with the pain from someone hurting us during our lifetimes, often many times over. We can be hurt by others in a variety of ways, but today, we will discuss how words can be hurtful.

What do you do when you are on the receiving end of a stinging, abusive tirade from someone? If you’re anything like me, I suspect your first reaction is to shoot right back—the old “you hurt me, so I’m going to hurt you more” tactic.

And how does that usually work out for us? They fire back with more hurt, and we counter with even more. Soon, we’re in a full-fledged gunfight with words instead of bullets. You see, all we do with that initial reaction is add more fuel to the fire.

The old me used to have a saying, “I don’t get even, I get ahead.” And while getting even or ahead may feel good in the moment, we often walk away from those incidents with a troubled heart. Revenge does not heal your heart—it only hurts the recipient and you.

In their book, “The Good Fight,” Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott list a few myths and facts about anger.

Myth: I shouldn’t hold in my anger. It’s healthy to let it out.

Fact: While it’s true that suppressing and ignoring anger is unhealthy, venting is not better. Anger is not something you have to let out in an aggressive way in order to avoid blowing up. In fact, outbursts and tirades only fuel the fire and reinforce your mismanaged anger.

Myth: Anger, aggression, and intimidation help me earn respect and get what I want.

Fact: True power doesn’t come from bullying others. People may be afraid of you, but they won’t respect you if you can’t control yourself or handle opposing viewpoints.

Myth: I can’t help myself. Anger isn’t something a person can control.

Fact: You can’t always control the situation you’re in or how it makes you feel, but you can control how you express your anger. And you can express your anger without unleashing an unbridled tirade.

What does God say about abusive words?

Ephesians 4:29
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Wow, that sounds a lot like what Mr. Rogers does in the movie, and we saw the effect it had on Lloyd. So, what would it look like if we commit to using words that are good and helpful—even those times when others hurt us initially—instead of fueling the fire?

I’d wager you would have a more beautiful day in your neighborhood.

How do you react to the hurtful words of others?

Are you harboring some lingering pain from past hurts?

Next Steps:
Find ways to help you avoid the initial reaction to lash out when hurt by others’ words.

Check out these other Bible verses on handling our words:

Loving God, I am so thankful for the gift of your Son, Jesus, who came as a living example of how to graciously handle the pain and hurt from others. Help me to draw on his example and your words to make sure I don’t fuel the fire when hurt by the words of others. Father, please help me to avoid initiating anger toward others with my words, but instead, to use words of encouragement that are good and helpful. Amen.

This post was written by Ned Miller, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.

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1 reply
  1. Julie Estep
    Julie Estep says:

    My initial reaction is to shut down and internalize the hurt being flung at me. I always have to turn towards the truth of who Jesus says I am. Every time I fail to believe what Jesus says it gives the enemy a foothold.

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