A close friend said something to me on the phone that took me by surprise. I felt it was cutting and I resented it deeply. I didn't hang up on him but I cut the conversation short and he knew I was truly provoked.
That conversation lit a fire under my flesh. I was disturbed, hurt, and agitated. Anger, indignation and grief began to pour out and, in short, I began to stew about it.
I paced around my study, trying to pray but I was so bothered and troubled I could hardly focus on the Lord. I prayed, "God, my close friend put me down and there was no reason for it. It had to be the devil trying to provoke me. I don't have to listen to that!"
I allowed these thoughts to simmer for about an hour. Then, finally, I came to a boiling point and cried out, "Lord, I'm really steamed about this!"
That's when I heard God's still, small voice, saying, "David, put out that flame right now. You're stewing in your own juices of hurt, anger and hatred because you've been deeply hurt. But what you're doing is dangerous and you dare not continue."
I learned long ago that when the Holy Spirit speaks, it pays to listen. I repented on the spot and asked His forgiveness. Then I sat down and began thinking: "What was it that so provoked me? And why did I keep simmering inside? I can't stay mad at this friend. We've been close for a long time and I know I'm going to forgive him. Why am I so upset?"
Suddenly, it hit me. The simmering inside me was not the result of that hurtful conversation. I was angry because I had allowed myself to be easily provoked again. I was troubled and agitated at myself because I had quickly fallen back into an old habit I thought I had conquered.
The fastest way to "put out the flame” is to trust in Christ's forgiveness. And He is ready to forgive at all times. "For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee" (Psalm 86:5).