Christians should have the best relationships in the world. Christian marriages should be amazing. Friendships should be lifelong and life giving. Christian Families should be wonderful. Yet the truth is that many who call themselves Christians lack the fruit of the Spirit patience. I believe that if we would allow ourselves to grow the fruit of the Holy Spirit it would impact our lives greatly.
Galatians 5:13ff says “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” I don’t think he’s talking about physical biting. He is talking about verbal biting that comes from frustration and anger and a loss of patience. The context is relationships. Then Paul gives us the key in Galatians 5:22
“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,”
We are going to talk about the development of patience in your life. I know that there is the old saying: “Whatever you pray for don’t pray for patience because God will give you so many things that will test your patience.” Here is what I have discovered, those things come into my life whether or not I am praying for patience.
Romans 15:5 NKJV tells us that God is patient and we are to be like Him. “May the God of patience and comfort grant you to be likeminded toward one another according to Christ Jesus that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He is the God of patience and comfort. I want to ask you a question: How patient are you? Actually, patience is a rarely seen virtue in today’s society.
Here is a few questions for you.:
- Do you leave the baseball game early…when your team is losing, do you leave?
- Do you leave the school ceremony as soon as your child has received their award or do you stay until their classmates are honored?
- Do you run out of church as the last hymn is being sung?
- Do any of you wish the world was a perfect place?
I came across a definition of what a perfect world would look like…Okay?
- Chocolate would have no calories.
- Procrastination would be honored as a virtue.
- Teen Agers would rather clean their room than talk on the telephone.
- Politicians would pay us taxes.
- Children on trips would say, “Isn’t riding in the car fun.”
Well, we don’t live in a perfect world, do we? That is why we need the fruit of the Spirit patience. The loss of patience is really just a mild form of anger. There is so much anger just below the surface. Just ride in the traffic a little bit and you will see the anger come out. Just watch the news and you will see anger at whoever is president. There is anger over racism. There is anger over politics. Children are living in anger today because of the way they have been treated by their parents. Parents are living in anger because they have been rejected by a mate or maybe they are frustrated over their kids. And there is all kinds of anger latent in our society. Anger is very volatile. It is very capable of exploding at any moment, like gasoline.
Isn’t God wired us with the capacity for anger. And he did that because there are times when anger is necessary. It is the needed energy to deliver God’s will or God’s kingdom. For instance, when Jesus went into the temple to get rid of the money changers. The bible says that he tipped over the money changers and he drove them out with a whip. Some people have a hard time with that Jesus. I mean let’s be honest, He was angry. He didn’t do that in a stoic kind of passive personality. When he went into the money changers and he saw that Gods house was not a place of prayer but rather a place for the exchanging of goods and money, there was a holy anger in his heart. But really, if we are honest, I don’t think the problem that most of us face is the problem of having too much righteous anger. The problem is that we can’t make it through the checkout line at Wal Mart. The problem is that those we are least patient with are those who are closest to us.
There are four truths that I am going to give you to help you through the anger issue and I want to give them to you very briefly.
- We must recognize that anger has many faces.
Someone may think, why would you take the fruit of the Spirit of patience and write an article about anger. Impatience is just another name for a mild form of anger. When most people think of anger, they picture a person in a rage. They have images of slamming doors, shouting and intimidating communication. Certainly, that is a part of an angry response. But anger is not one dimensional. It is multifaceted. We use the term anger or impatience to describe a number of expressions.
- How about frustration?
- How about irritability?
- How about annoyance?
- How about fretting?
- Of course spiritual people don’t get angry, they are grieved in their spirit. Come on! Enough already with the hyper spiritual.
Some would say, I am not a screamer. I just don’t say anything. I just give them the silent treatment. How many of you know that you can be silent outwardly and inwardly you are not having the fruit of the Spirit patience.
Let me give you a few other ways that you can recognize, Hey Lord I need the fruit of patience in my life.
- Do you nurture critical thoughts quite easily?
- Do you feel annoyed when your family and friends do not meet your needs?
- Do you walk in another direction if you see someone you don’t like?
- Do you have a hard time when people refuse to admit their weaknesses?
- When you talk about your irritations, do you really want to hear the other point of view?
- Do you sometimes want to quit because of discouragement?
- Do you blame others for your problems and your situation?
- Do you use sarcasm or humor when you are annoyed?
- All of these things point to the fact that you need and I need the fruit of patience.
Anger and loss of patience has many faces.
- We must recognize the destructive potential of inappropriate anger.
You have to know that anger cost you something. And you are less likely to get angry if you know that it will cost you something. You are less likely to get angry if you know what anger does to you. Proverbs 11:29 says in the Living Bible “The fool who provokes his family to anger will have nothing worthwhile left.” Anger destroys families. Anger violates relationships. Anger ruins friendships.
Parents, if you are motivating your children with anger, you can get short term results with anger but in the end you always lose because they are going to end up producing anger right back at you. They will get angry right back. That is a pattern that you see whenever there is anger in your home. The first thing that you have to do is recognize the destructive potential of inappropriate anger in your home.
The second thing is
- You must realize the root causes of anger.
It is the wisdom of mom’s around the world: “Whenever you get angry you must count to ten.” Before you blow it count to ten. Well, I want to testify to you that does not work. I have done it many times and the problem is that while I am counting to ten. I am also calculating what I am going to do when I get to ten, all right? So, it doesn’t work that way.
But I want to show you that that motherly wisdom is almost scriptural in a sense because Proverbs 29:11 says, “A rebel gives free reign and shouts out in anger, but a wise man waits and lets it grow cool.” Isn’t that interesting? The idea of counting to ten is right there in the Bible if while you are counting you are cooling down. If while you are counting you are calming yourself and giving yourself a chance to slow down and think. It is a good thing. But if while you are counting to ten you are thinking about all of the ways you are going to_______________ I won’t finish that sentence. It doesn’t work.
What do you do to cool yourself down if you are the kind that is given over to anger? First of all,
Analyze while you are angry. I mean think about it. You have to know, why am I angry? What am I really wanting out of this? What is really irritating me? How can I get to the real issue? If you can just somehow stop and think what it is that is making you so upset, you are going to find out that there is one of three things that is behind your anger.
I am giving you three root causes of anger. When people get destructive anger, it is because,
- They are hurt.
People are angry because they are hurt. Have you ever hit your thumb nail with the hammer instead of the nail you are aiming for? When you hurt your hand you get angry. Isn’t that a ridiculous emotion? Why don’t you feel sorry for yourself? But instead you get angry because you hit your thumb with a hammer.
That is just the way it is in relationships. People are angry in relationships because of the root cause of hurt. They are hurt. People are angry because they are wounded. So, when you find yourself becoming angry and losing your patience, look inward and say, Am I hurt about something? It could even be misplaced anger. If you are impatient with your son, is it because your boss belittled you today?
- They get frustrated.
Frustration has to do with disappointment and delay. People will say hey, it’s just not happening the way I want it to happen. It’s not happening now. What I want and need is not being delivered and so people are living in frustration. If you stop and think it through, Is not frustration really saying to God, “You know God, I don’t deserve to have to wait?” I’m entitled and special.
Yet the scripture tells us that waiting is very much a part of Christianity.
- They have fear.
People get angry when they get afraid. I don’t know if you ever have taken an animal and put him up in the corner and you get them to where they are feeling threatened and they are going to attack. They are going to get angry and come rushing at you. That is the same way it is with people. When people feel threatened, they end up getting angry, and they attack with anger.
IT IS EASIER TO DEAL WITH THE ROOT CAUSES OF ANGER, THAN IT IS TO DEAL WITH ANGER ITSELF.
It is easier to deal with hurt, and frustration, and fear, than it is with anger. If all you focus on is the anger that is in your relationship, then you never get to the root causes.
- You have to learn how to release anger appropriately.
Release your anger in a redemptive manner. The biggest problem with anger is that it leads us into sin. In Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,” One translation it says “Be angry without letting your anger lead you into sin.” One of the reasons that anger becomes sin or one of the reasons anger leads to sin is because in the Christian community we are to afraid to express our anger.
We’ve learned and many Christians believe that truly spiritual people never get angry. I want to let you know right up front. Some spiritual people really do get angry. The problem is that we get angry but we think that if we are really spiritual we don’t get angry so we end up denying that we are angry. People think that if you admit you ‘re angry that you are not patient.
Many have learned to stuff down their anger. If you have learned to disguise your anger thinking that disguised anger is what patience is all about. That is not patience. That is lying. Patience is not pretending that you don’t have anger. Patience is not saying, I’m not angry when you really are angry.
The problem is not the anger. It’s what you do with the anger and how you release the anger.
And most of us have learned how to release the anger in terribly inappropriate ways.
- Some try to drown their anger with alcohol, drugs.
- Some try to leverage their anger with immorality or affairs or illegal relationships or workaholism.
In fact, if you took the whole list of the works of the sinful nature in Galatians 5 and read every one of them. I would offer to you that anger is capable of being expressed through any of these that are listed in the works of the flesh. It is not anger that is so much of a problem. It is the way we learn to release our anger or express our anger. Let me go back to Proverbs 29:11 “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” Anger leads to sin when you fail to release it appropriately.
There is a myth that going around that most people buy into about anger. People believe that the way to get rid of anger is to ventilate. “I just need to vent.” Some professionals will tell you that everyone has this certain amount of anger within them. Your personal bucket full of anger.
They teach that the only way to get rid of it is to release it, get it off your chest, dump it. Vomit it out. Tell people what you think. Scream it!
In fact, they have a therapy called Primal Scream Therapy. That is where you just Scream. The idea is to get back to their cave man mentality and just, “Aaaah!!!” And that makes you feel better because your bucket of anger is poured out.
I have news for you. If you are really an angry person… you don’t have a bucket or two or 10 buckets. You have a factory. Did you know that when you get angry it releases a chemical in your brain? And actually, if you are prone to venting that angry. It is almost as though you are addicted to anger.
If you are living in anger, do you know what it is producing? more anger!
If you are living in aggression, do you know what it is producing? more aggression!
If you are living in outbursts, do you know what it produces? more outburst.
If I am parent, and I am given over to outburst, then what am I teaching my children? I am teaching them to have more outburst. And I am saying that the anger that you express inappropriately will come back to you stronger and you will have to do more to leverage it.
Let me make it plain: Inappropriately venting at someone will not get rid of anger. And, You cannot suppress your anger by denying that you have any! You can’t just push it down and pretend like it is not there. Because suppressed anger leads to depression. Doctors will tell you that the main cause of people who are living in depression is anger.
Why are you writing an article to Christians about this? Because the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is battling depression more than it ought to have to battle depression and it is because we are not being honest with ourselves. We are pretending like we are living way up here. and we are living with anger. We are pretending that we are spiritual and as a result we are infecting our own soul with depression.
People say, I am depressed, and what they need is someone to say, You’re not Depressed. your Angry!
- Your angry at your wife!
- Your angry at your husband!
- Your angry at your boss!
- Your angry at your church!
- Your angry at God!
Only you don’t think it’s appropriate to express anger because you are a Christian. So here is the 10,000 dollar question. How does a Christian express anger? How do we do it? How do we develop patience? How do I keep my anger from becoming sin?
IN ORDER TO DEVELOP THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT PATIENCE…
I HAVE TO BE HONEST WITH MYSELF, OTHERS AND GOD
I have to learn to level with myself and with others and with God. I have to admit it. But I can’t just admit that I am angry, I have to admit what the root cause of my anger is. It is not fair to say, I’m angry because I’m Irish. I’m angry because my mom was angry. It doesn’t work that way. Listen you are responsible for every expression of anger. If your living in anger then you have to own up to it and say, I’m living in anger because I’m hurt. I’m angry because I am frustrated. I’m angry because I am afraid.
I HAVE TO HAVE MY MIND RENEWED AND REPATTERN MY THINKING.
The Bible says in Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
You see, the way you think determines how you feel and how you feel, determines how you act. What you believe right now determines your behavior! Belief determines behavior. And the problem is, even though we were raised in the Bible belt, and even though we believe Jesus is risen from the dead, most of us live with confused belief systems. We grew up in the bible belt so have some tug on us that says, “Live with the belief of what the word of God says.” But for the most part, we have grown up with the movie screen and the television teaching us that when you get angry you must express it in some way. When you get angry you express it with destructive behavior. Or you hurt somebody. Or you cuss them out. Or you get even with them.
And so, we have to have our mind reprogrammed. And some of the ways we need our mind reprogrammed is just to realize that everything doesn’t always go my way. If it doesn’t go your way that doesn’t mean God isn’t on your side. Sometimes stuff just goes haywire. Reprogram your mind to say, All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
Reprogram your mind. Your kids don’t have to perfect. Your wife doesn’t have to be perfect. Your husband doesn’t have to be perfect. As you begin to think in these ways, the anger begins to diminish. And then you have to learn how to appropriately state your needs and your feelings and your thoughts. What I am about to tell you is not easy! But what I am going to tell you will impact your life in a powerful way!
I CAN DROP ANGER
You can just drop anger. I’ll prove it to you. You are having a fight with your spouse. The phone rings you don’t know who it is. Immediately, you can just talk in a normal voice and sound wonderful. What happened to the anger? You dropped it! If you can drop it for a moment, you can just let it go.
And then, you can state your case appropriately. I have a friend in ministry. Her name is Trisha Taylor. She taught me a little outline. I think it is appropriate sometimes to have a skeleton to hang our words on. Because if not it is easy for our words to become a volcano. Sometimes our issues do need to be stated. Here is what we have to do.We have to say,
This is who I am
This is what I feel.
This is what I think
This is what I am going to do.
That outline is the most powerful little tool.
Take your kids. They are on your last nerve. Every part of you…is upset and ready to strangle the little monsters. This is who I am. I am your mother. This is how I feel. I feel like we don’t need all of this confusion and commotion in the house. This is what I think. I think everyone needs to go to their bedroom for about 15 minutes and calm down. This is what I am going to do.
If you do not go immediately, that will be extended for one hour.I am also going to lay down.
How many of you see the outline at work?
God wants us to have patience, and if we work at, we will be able to grow the fruit of the Holy Spirit patience.