Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8, NIV)

I love the booming, powerful sound of thunder. But there are times when thunder shouldn’t be heard.

Driving the interstate provides me several irritating reminders that I have room for spiritual growth to achieve the perfect plateau where nothing gets under my skin. Slow drivers in the left-hand lane. Packs of cars driving side-by-side, even though one lane is meant for passing. Long-haul trucks who make sudden lane changes, almost running me off the road. For some reason, these things irritate me. String a couple of them together and my irritation shifts to anger.

For Christians, life is a work in progress. While the Holy Spirit is transforming us internally, we are learning to control our external responses to actions and events. Of course, there will always be situations that warrant justifiable, godly anger – injustices, abused children, legalization of immoral behavior, etc. Even Jesus demonstrated anger when faced with immoral, unjust circumstances. He was angry but did not allow His anger to cause Him to sin.

Son of Thunder

The Apostle John was called a “Son of Thunder” (Mark 3:17) in reference to his fiery disposition. He wanted to call down fire from heaven to burn up a town of Samaritans for refusing to welcome Jesus and his disciples (Luke 9:54). He also forcefully stopped someone from casting out demons in Jesus name simply because that person was not a part of their immediate group (Mark 9:38).

In both instances, Jesus kindly, yet firmly, reprimanded John while encouraging him to develop a loving, compassionate spirit. After all, the distinguishing characteristic of Christ’s followers is the love they have for others (John 13:35). The transformation in John’s life was so great he later wrote, “Whoever does not love does not know God.” This fiery Son of Thunder was transformed into the Apostle of love. What made the difference? Spending time with Jesus. Watching Jesus demonstrate His love by sacrificing His life for a world who hated Him. Allowing the Holy Spirit to open and soften John’s heart.

My heart’s conviction is to be more loving. Not simply at select times when things go as expected, but specifically in those irritating moments when my natural “thunder” wants to rumble. Though a long way from being known as The Beloved Disciple, I’ve found my thunderclaps grow quieter and more distant the closer I walk with Jesus.

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