Summary: When people disappoint you, let God be Judge; and when plans disappoint you, let God be King.
Several years ago, Neil Melly was at the Los Angeles International Airport, attempting to fly to Australia. However, his credit card was denied when he tried to purchase a ticket. Now, a flight from LAX to the other side of the world is no small change; so without a valid credit card, most of us would just go home.
Not Neil Melly. Hours later, still angry that he couldn’t fly to Australia, Melly stripped off all his clothes and made a dash for the airport runway. Baggage handlers watched as Melly fearlessly and without injury scaled a fence topped with three strands of barbed wire. Then Neil sprinted across the tarmac toward a moving Australian jumbo jet and crawled inside the wheel well.
How stupid can a man get? Airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles said, “He could have been sucked up by an engine,” or crushed when the landing gear was retracted. “And if not, he very likely would have frozen to death during the 15½ hour flight at 30,000 feet while wearing no clothes.”
Pilots stopped the plane. Melly was coaxed from his hiding place and arrested. The official charge was trespassing. Apparently, there's no law against poor problem solving, anger mismanagement, or being the butt of jokes. (“Naked Man Climbs Onto Moving Jet,” Yahoo.com, 11-04-04; www.PreachingToday.com)
Most people lose their cool from time to time. They might not pull a “Melly” and streak their way into the news. But a lot of people yell or point fingers of blame. Maybe they throw something or just smolder with fury. It doesn't match getting naked and climbing barbed wire, but it's just about as useful.
So what can you do when you get angry that might actually be useful? What is a good way to handle your disappointments and frustrations? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to James 4, James 4, where James addresses this issue of handling your disappointments with people or your plans.
James 4:11a: Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. (ESV)
When you’re frustrated and disappointed, don’t cast blame. Don’t slander your brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t speak evil of others.
You see, when things don’t go the way you plan, the tendency is to look for someone to blame, to bad-mouth someone else, but that never works. If anything, it only makes things worse.
Several years ago, James Collins looked at 1,435 good companies, examined their performance over 40 years, and discovered the principles that made just 11 of those companies move from good to great.
In 2001, he published his findings in a book called From Good to Great, which is still helping leaders today. One of the most surprising findings Collins found was that leaders of “great” companies (compared to just “good” ones) were at heart humble men.
In other words, when things are going well, those leaders look through a window and see the people who are contributing to the company’s success. They don’t credit themselves with the company’s success; they credit their employees.
On the other hand, when things are NOT going well, leaders of “great” companies look in a mirror. Instead of blaming their employees, they take responsibility for the failure themselves. They ask themselves, “What did I do to cause this?” Or “What can I do to fix this?”
They have learned that in difficult times, casting blame never works. It’s the principle of James 4:11 – Do not speak evil against one another. Don’t slander your brothers and sisters.
Why? Because casting blame usurps the law. Slander puts you in the place of the law unlawfully.
James 4:11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. (ESV)
You’re a critic of the law; not a doer of it. The law is very clear: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But when you condemn your neighbor, you do the exact opposite; you break the law, putting yourself above the law. Casting blame usurps the law.
More than that, casting blame usurps the Lawgiver Himself. When you condemn others, you put yourself in God’s place.
James 4:12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (ESV)
That’s God’s job, not yours. Warren Wiersbe put it this way: “We are not called to be judges; God is the only Judge. He is patient and understanding; His judgments are just and holy; we can leave the matter with Him.”
Now, that’s the way to handle frustration and disappointment: Leave the matter with God, and…