Some time ago we heard a prayer uttered by a servant of God who was deeply grieved over the lack of spirituality in the church of which he was the pastor. His prayer was, “O Lord, let me not become vexed with the ways of my people.”
Alas it is more important that we retain a right spirit toward others than that we bring them to our way of thinking, even if our way is right.
Satan has achieved a real victory when he succeeds in getting us to react in an unspiritual way towards sins and failures in our brethren. We cannot fight sin with sin nor draw men of God by frowning at them in fleshly anger. “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”
Often acts done in a spirit of religious irritation have consequences far beyond anything we could have guessed. Moses allowed himself to become vexed with the same stroke he closed the land of promise against him for the rest of his life.
It is a splendid rule to refrain from making decisions when we are discouraged. Elijah, in an attack of self-pity, prayed that his life might be taken-and his active ministry ended right there. After that he did no more than get ready for his departure. God raised up another man to carry on, and took his dissatisfied servant home. Piqued prayers can be dangerous.
We have heard of a certain man of God who had been greatly used in praying for the sick with the natural result that he was often called out at very inopportune times and under circumstances that were anything but pleasant. Once when sent for in the middle of the night he threw himself across the bed and complained to God of the lack of consideration the call evinced. That was the end for him. Thereafter no one was ever delivered in answer to prayer, even though he sought with many tears to capture again the gift which he had lost.
It is quite natural, and quite spiritual, to feel sorrow and heaviness when we see the professed followers of Christ walking in the ways of the world. And our first impulse may easily be to go straight to them and upbraid them righteously. But such methods are seldom successful. The heat in our spirit may not be from the Holy Ghost, and if it is not, then it can very well do more harm than good.
It is not an easy task to be prophets and reformers in our generation and yet maintain a spirit of kindliness toward the very ones we are sent to reprove. But it is not out of our reach. “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” He can do the impossible if we but yield and obey. He will meet our faith with the calm deep fire of holy hatred for sin expressed in a manner consistent with love.
In this as in everything else Christ is our perfect example. A prayerful, face-down meditation on the life of Christ will show us how to oppose with kindness and reprove with charity. And the power of the Holy Spirit within us will enable us to follow His blessed example.
A. W. Tozer Beware The Vexed Spirit is taken from Alliance Weekly 28 April 1951