Galatians 5:22-23 NASB “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
I ran into a situation last night where I became emotionally upset. I removed myself from the conversation but not before I had clearly indicated my displeasure. I’m not sure if it was outright anger or just frustration with encountering clear misinformation being stated as fact, along with an attitude of total disregard for my voiced opposition and I’m not really sure which of those two factors bothered me more. If I think about it, I’m thinking the latter probably took precedence because along with the misinformation that was voiced, was the inference that the external source of the misinformation was the deciding factor and anything that I stated was irrelevant. When I initially heard the misinformation being articulated, I asked two or three questions and the answers that were given were clearly incorrect. The topic that initiated this anger or frustration in myself had to do with the differences between Islam and Christianity, in particular, the person and deity of Christ. What is important is that it happened and I obviously could have handled it better. It seriously bothers me when I encounter my own lack of patience or self control. I asked God to forgive me and I will make an apology to the person involved.
The mixture of water and oil comes to mind when this particular person and I have a “heated” exchange. We have a long history and it has been very difficult. I can’t help but think that God is trying to get something across to me and for the life of me, I can’t really get a handle on it. We’re not talking about a lack of love being present or not trying, quite possibly from the perspective of both of our parts.
I sometimes wonder as I read through God’s Word, especially when I look at the words and actions that Jesus is quoted as saying or doing and other instances where there was clear friction or disagreement between believers, such as between the Apostle Paul and Peter (Galatians 2:11-13) or Paul and Barnabus involving Mark (Acts 15:36-41), if all situations call for complete gentleness, patience and self-control or is the without exception, expectation, in fact, unrealistic. For a spiritual goal, for sure, but realistically because we are still human, I’m not so sure. What I do see, especially among believers, is that it can obviously happen. And it can also happen between believers and non-believers.
The discord between believers and believers or believers and non-believers doesn’t really bother me, in the essence of the human factor, none of us, including the Apostle Paul or Peter or Mark or Barnabus are perfect. It happens. Ultimately we are to instructed by Jesus to love one another (John 15:12) and the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:16-18 NASB “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
But when I look at Jesus, who was sinless, I also see what I perceive as instances of anger and clear distain or impatience displayed at times. We know that Jesus cleared the Temple of merchants twice (John 2:11-16) and (Matthew 21:12-13) where His actions are indicated as “righteous anger” or zeal for the Lord (John 2:17). I have no problem with that.
But what about the manner in which He spoke to the Pharisees (Matthew 23) or the impatience that He articulated with His own disciples or unbelievers? Look at Matthew 16:8-12 NASB “But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Then there is Matthew 17:16-17 NASB “I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.”
In our “sensitive” culture, could that not be looked upon as insensitive criticism?I don’t have a problem with what Jesus said, He called it as He saw it, a lack of understanding and inability to grasp spiritual realities, which He voiced. The verse where Jesus states “How long shall I put up with you?” could easily be taken as impatience from my perspective. Is there any other possible way to take it? And He voiced it. And Jesus was sinless.
You’re probably thinking I’m trying to find justification for my lack of patience, self control and gentleness and that is quite possible. The biggest problem I can identify with myself in this “exchange” is my reaction to someone inferring that “and anything that I stated was irrelevant.” Seems to me that would be associated with pride but … was Jesus displaying pride when He showed disdain for the Pharisees or the lack of understanding of His disciples? Is there something there that I’m missing? I’m open to your thoughts.
Last night it would appear that I crossed that threshold where Paul talks about “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
In the interim, I’m still working on trying to figure this all out.
UPDATE: If you read the comments below Stephen and Damon were both heading in the same direction with regard to whether I was offended or grieved and I am thinking that is really key. Being offended focuses on me whereas being grieved focuses on them. Even in the example where Jesus appears to be frustrated with His disciples and the non-believers, I’m thinking He was more grieved concerning them than He was thinking about Himself.
This is good!
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!