Patience, Self Control, Gentleness

patience

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 NASBBe 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

19 Comments

  1. I would say you should not be too hard on yourself. There is nothing wrong in displaying righteous anger when there is a deliberate attempt to discredit the truth of the gospel which we hold so dear.

    I take it that you were not so angry at the person involved that you would not talk to him again. For all I care you were only displeased with how the issues were presented, and you have the right to do so. From your story, the other person knows you were displeased but you didn’t say if he took offence. (What if he didn’t?)

    In any case, if the spirit of God is teaching you something on gentleness, patience and self-control from this episode, it’s okay to follow His leading. You know the strength of our characters can’t be tested except when we encounter situations like the one you just narrated.

    In the final analysis, we should not stop defending our faith because we don’t want to be seen as being displeased with issues or being confrontational. Rather we should heed to Peter’s advice: ‘But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” 1 Peter 3:15.

    In order words, be ready to defend your faith, but do it with gentleness and reverence. All of us are work in progress in this area!

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  2. Was Jesus not correcting the Pharisee, the Jew, Apostles in their ways of “thinking”, as they knew nothing more than the Law? Correcting the Jews was not anger, in my view.
    Sure, we are human, and humans all have emotions. We are tainted by the many things of the world that affect the emotions.
    I believe that is exactly why Jesus removed all sin, because we are failures here in the flesh.
    I believe, and this is just my personal view, that staying out of situations that bring personal strife is best for those whom cannot control their emotions, especially when everyone in the world has a completely different experience, with or without our Lord. We just have to love them, pray for them, and know that God will change our hearts the more we choose to embrace His fruits.
    Blessings, Bruce.

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    1. Hi Damon, No confrontation, no correcting, unless one has complete control of their emotions? Any NT Biblical examples in mind? I agree that correcting the Jews via words was not anger but it was definitely criticism, which did at times show frustration. Is frustration an emotion? Can’t see avoidance as a viable response considering that we are admonished to defend the faith. Your thoughts?

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      1. No, no, you missed it.
        Bruce, you are very sensitive to the opinions of others. You cannot have complete control over your emotions, but you can let things roll off your back. My point was putting yourself in situations / conversations you cannot handle is harmful to both you and the other IF you can’t handle your emotions.
        Definition of Frustration
        the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.
        Emotion? I’d say so.
        What position do you have to criticize anyone?

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      2. Thanks Damon, well that wouldn’t be the first time I missed something. I do usually think twice before responding and the vast majority of times I am relatively successful in avoiding unnecessary conflict but … sometimes my nature does get the best of me. I do believe that criticism is justified when a pivotal doctrine such as the divinity of Christ is involved or His death and resurrection, where there is a major difference between what Islam believes and what Christianity believes about Jesus. It’s when the emotions get involved and they over ride stating the case being made. I’m thinking that most of us are sensitive to the opinions of others. How does one contend for the faith without defending it? I’m thinking that avoidance is not the answer but rather balancing the need to defend our faith while at the same time keeping one’s emotions in check. Again, your thoughts?

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      3. I don’t have time at the moment. I’m working. I’ll get back with you when time permits. Try to enjoy the blessings of the day. And, just for the record, I don’t agree that we should just let the beliefs of Muslims just roll off of our backs, but we should show them GRACE as we lovingly try correct their error with the hope of them receiving the seeds we sow. The Lord provides the change. We — in our flesh — find it hard to not be the ones who “win” people over. The Lord does that, not us.

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  3. The person to whom I lost my cool with, was quoting a Muslim and because the Muslim had said how they honored Jesus, the consensus put forward by the person I personally was conversing with was that both Muslims and Christians have the same appreciation for Jesus and because the Muslim had said that, the Muslim ought to know and that settled that. I indicated that in spite of what the Muslim had indicated there were major differences between what Muslims believe pertaining to who Jesus was and what He had accomplished, as compared with what Christians believe.

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  4. Jesus definitely had harsh words for spiritual leaders who were leading others astray. When a pharisee was a hypocrite, he called it like it was. (If leading or influencing others, one better be leading them in the right direction!)

    Having said that, it sounds like you were debating with a believer of Islam. I can see how you would get frustrated, especially if that person was closed minded and didn’t want to hear anything that didn’t support what he believes. I gather this person is someone you care about.

    I don’t believe Jesus lost His patience, but rather, what he had to say was hard to hear. However, He spoke the truth anyway. And isn’t that really all we can do? (Speak the truth)

    This reminds me of a time I “lost it” when a girl in a middle school classroom accused me of being racist in front of the whole class. I got so angry and “went off” on her. Later, I apologized for losing my temper. As I sought God, I started to realize that I was caught off guard. I thought about how I could have handled it differently. I believe God was refining me through this event. Perhaps He is refining you, too. Blessings, my friend. I am forever thankful for the refiner’s fire because I want to be more like Jesus.

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    1. Hi Cindy, yes I also hate to be caught off guard but like you have indicated, there is always a good reason and lesson there if one looks for it. Yes, the person is close family and it’s been a long hard haul. But the lesson I have been shown is good and helps for what lays ahead. Trusting God to do what only He can do and as long as I work with Him and not against Him. That’s where the refining comes in. It’s where the rubber hits the road and really that is what it is all about, what God can do through us when we are open to His Spirit within. Blessings as always!

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  5. Sorry to hear this Bruce. I know it bothers you when these things happen.
    I always tend to ask myself “am I offended or grieved by what has been done or said” I prefer to be grieved rather than offended. My reaction when I’m grieved is a lot less personal and more in check. The Truth need not be debated but only spoken.
    Myself, I wouldn’t be bothered by an instance as this. I get the feeling your friend probably isn’t surprised by your reaction. You’re a passionate guy Bruce, and that’s ok.
    I hope you figure out what Jesus is trying to teach you.

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    1. Hi Stephen, I apologized this morning and my apology was accepted. I think what bothered me was the individual I was speaking with has little understanding on the differences between Islam and Christianity and because the source of the misinformation, originated from a Muslim friend of their’s, and their friend had said so, THAT was the deciding factor, for the individual I was speaking with. The facts of the misinformation I questioned are not seriously in question to anyone who has a basic understanding of Islam. The lesson I seem to be getting is “let it go”. Nothing is gained when “disagreement” becomes “confrontation”. What really bothered me was how quickly I responded emotionally to my dismissal. I really have to focus on “letting it go” more often when hostile confrontation becomes readily apparent. Being so readily susceptible to that emotional aspect really bothered me. And, as a side issue, it reminded me of what I had seen in the scriptures, by the Apostles and disciples and even to a limited extent, by Jesus Himself, where it appeared that He expressed frustration towards his disciples and non-believers. Still don’t have a handle on that one. I think your question is a good one, there is a big difference between being offended and grieved. Being offended has me in the focus whereas being grieved should have them in focus. That really helps. Thank you Stephen. Blessings.

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  6. I don’t really have anything else to say, Bruce. I see from your description of the conversation you had with the person about their lack of understanding — both of the deity of Christ and the truth of His Word, I’m gathering (??) — that you were trying to convey what he didn’t understand. That’s just his ignorance, and that’s unfortunate. From your conversations with the commenters, it seems as though you get it. Gal. 5:22-23 is the answer, and self-control seems to pertain to the emotions in this instance. Blessings.

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  7. I find this post tremendously interesting and I empathise with you as there have been several times when I have struggled to hold my temper, and I am sure there will be many more. I’ve found that these have been the times when God seems to be teaching me what I need to learn. It can often take a long time for these lessons to sink in and it feels uncomfortable at the time, but I’m grateful that he’s leading me. I daresay I will have many lessons still to come!

    I have also thought about how Jesus spoke to people and at times displayed impatience. It’s something I would like to delve into more from the bible and give it more thought.

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