What My Temper Tells Me

“Think for a moment of a clock and of what its hands mean. The hands tell me what is within the clock, and if I see that the hands stand still, or that the hands point wrong, or that the clock is slow or fast, I say that something inside the clock is not working properly. And temper is just like the revelation that the clock gives of what is within. Temper is a proof whether the love of Christ is filling the heart, or not.” —Andrew Murray, in Absolute Surrender

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“The busyness of duties will knock us out of relationship to God more quickly than the devil.” —Oswald Chambers

“The moment I come into possession of something which my neighbor or my fellow man has not, I become a debtor to that fellow man! … It is to God, then, that in the first place Paul feels himself an infinite debtor in the fullest sense [Romans 1:14]. To God Himself he cannot pay this debt directly, but he can indirectly, by pouring out the God-given treasure upon others.” —Horatius Bonar

“To lose temper, and call names, is a common sign of a defeated cause. … The true Christian in the present day must never be surprised to find that he has constant trials to endure from this quarter. Sinful human nature never changes. So long as he serves the world, and walks in the broad way, little perhaps will be said against him. Once let him take up the cross and follow Christ, and there is no lie too monstrous, and no story too absurd, for some to tell against him, and for others to believe. But let him take comfort in the thought that he is only drinking the cup which his blessed Master drank before him. The lies of his enemies do him no injury in heaven, whatever they may on earth. Let him bear them patiently, and not fret, or lose his temper. When Christ was reviled, ‘He reviled not again’ (1 Peter 2:23). Let the Christian do likewise.” —J.C. Ryle

I like hearing this: Senator Ted Cruz points out how Congress can end abortion without the Supreme Court.

Rev. Tim Dilena shares a video message of how to finish well: Fighting The Reprehensible Thing.

Are you infringing on someone’s copyright? Check out this infographic from ChurchMag.

Love Is… (part 2)

Love is… worksheet 2I’m leading my congregation through a practical look at the incredible definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. We’re doing this in the context of learning how to love the “unloveable”—or maybe I should say, loving those who are the most resistant to real love. If we can show them love, how much more will the love of Jesus be seen!

All of these verbs are present tense verbs. That means they aren’t exhausted in the past, and they aren’t waiting for future conditions to improve… they are in operation NOW.

Far too many people know Christians more by what we’re against than by what we’re for. So where the biblical text say “love does not” or “love isn’t,” I’ve changed it into the positive “love is.”

You can read about the first five attributes love love by clicking here.

The next five attributes are:

Love is graceful

  • The root word means something that should be covered up, or something we’re ashamed of. Because our words and actions are graceful, they are things we wouldn’t have to defend, or explain, or apologize for later. They are words and actions that wouldn’t embarrass us.
  • Agape will do nothing that misbecomes it.” —Matthew Henry

Love knows our relationship > my rights

  • True love “does not demand its own way” (New Living Translation) nor does it “insist on its own rights” (Amplified Bible). Instead it always seeks ways that the relationship can be repaired or enhanced, even if that means giving up something I consider to be “my right.”
  • NOTE: I’m not saying that you become a doormat. This is not a license for someone to abuse you, but it is a call for us to balance our responses. Romans 12:18 says as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
  • Here are some great balancing verses. Balance Proverbs 26:4 with 26:5, and balance Philippians 2:3 with 2:4.

Love is even-tempered

  • The Amplified Bible says it well: love is not touchy or fretful or resentful.
  • This Greek word means not getting stirred up or exasperated. So we need to lighten up!
  • There are some places where we’ve become too sensitive, too touchy, too short-fused. The fire of hurt has replaced the fire of love. So Matthew Henry advises us: “Where the fire of love is kept in, the flames of wrath will not easily kindle, nor long keep burning.”

Love is forgiving

  • The New International Version says love keeps no record of wrongs.
  • This Greek phrase speaks of an accountant tallying up the hurts (where there is an overdrawn account), seeing there is a debt to be paid back, and then appointing himself as the bill collector. True love cancels those IOUs.
  • We don’t forgive others because they deserve forgiveness, but we forgive others because we received forgiveness from God that we did not deserve!
  • Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (AMP)

Love is God-honoring

  • Agape loves what God loves and hates what God hates.
  • Agape loves when people find God’s truth, and hates anything that blocks that pursuit.
  • Agape loves the sinner and hates the sin.
  • “The sins of others are the grief of an agape spirit [not] its sport or delight; they will touch it to the quick….” —Matthew Henry

Here’s where the real test comes in: How will you apply these attributes of love to someone in your life? More specifically: to someone you think is “unloveable”?

I know you have someone in your life that you think is unloveable. With that person’s face clearly in mind, how will you fill in the blanks:

  1. I can be graceful in…
  2. I can give up my right to…
  3. I need to lighten up in this area…
  4. I must forgive them for…
  5. I need to pray for a breakthrough in…

If you would like a downloadable PDF of this worksheet, click here –> Love is… worksheet 2

I will be concluding my series on Loving The Unloveable next Sunday, and I hope you can join me.

Don’t Unchristianize Your World

This morning I shared this quote from Henry Drummond. He absolutely nails it when he says our temper can unchristianize the societies in which we live and work.

Henry Drummond“The peculiarity of ill temper is that it is the vice of the virtuous. …No form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness itself, does more to unchristianize society than evil temper. For embittering life, for breaking up communities, for destroying the most sacred relationships, for devastating homes, for withering up men and women, for taking the bloom of childhood, in short, for sheer gratuitous misery-producing power this influence stands alone.” —Henry Drummond

May God help us eliminate our unchristianized tempers!

Preying Or Praying

I wrapped up our Ticked Off! series yesterday with a sad story. It appears right in the opening pages of the Bible, and it’s a story where one man’s anger preys on him, like a lion on a wounded animal.

Now Able kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Able brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Able and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?” If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but YOU MUST MASTER IT.” (Genesis 4:2-7, emphasis added)

We’re not sure exactly why “the Lord looked with favor on Able and his offering, but not on Cain and his offering.” Except we know that the Bible says obedience is better than sacrifice. In other words, it’s not what they brought as a sacrifice, but how they brought their sacrifice. Apparently Able’s heart was worshipful and Cain’s was begrudging.

Able’s heart was focused on God; Cain’s heart was focused on himself. That’s why Cain became so selfishly angry, because he wasn’t getting what he thought he deserved!

This anger was setting up Cain for disaster. Anger itself is not a sin, but unaddressed anger can put us on a slippery slope toward sin!

Notice God told Cain, “YOU must master it.” God can’t help us until we stop trying to help ourselves. God wants to help us defeat the crouching lion of sin, but we have to ask him to help us.

Sadly, there is no biblical record of Cain asking God for His help. Instead in the next verses Cain—so consumed by his anger that he cannot think straight—murders his own brother. Cain was preyed upon by anger because Cain didn’t pray about his anger.

The devil is looking for any opening at all where he can pounce on you. And Ephesians 4:26-27 says that unaddressed anger is just such an opening. Don’t let your anger defeat you as it did Cain. Confess your anger to God (Psalm 32:1-5) and let God help you defeat the crouching lion of anger.

Sin is PREYing. You must be PRAYing.

It’s Not Anger Management

Aristotle had an insightful quote that was almost accurate—

Anybody can become angry—that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.

I agree with most of this, but I would argue that it’s not within anybody’s power to express their anger in the right way.

The Bible says that our challenge is to not sin when we are angry (Ephesians 4:26). But most anger is selfishly provoked. That means, I’m angry because I have been offended, or my “rights” have been violated, or someone injured me.

If my anger has been selfishly provoked, how can I be expected to express my anger in any other fashion but selfishly?!?

Instead of me trying to manage my anger, I need to listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice. There is one important question the Spirit asks us (which comes from Jonah 4:9)—

Do you do well to be angry?

  • Is it good for me to be angry with this? or should I let this go?
  • Is my anger righteously provoked? or is it selfishly provoked?
  • Does this grieve the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63:10)?

God’s Spirit within you is never silent. He will either confirm that your anger is righteously provoked (as it was with Jesus in John 2:13-17), or it’s selfishly provoked (as it was with Jonah). That’s why you must ask yourself that question and allow the Holy Spirit to help you answer it: Do I do well to be angry?

If you answer “yes,” and the Holy Spirit confirms this in your heart, then He will help you to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way (as Aristotle said).

And if you answer “no,” the Holy Spirit is the only one who can help put out the flames of your anger in a healthy way.

So don’t try to manage your temper. Listen to the Holy Spirit asking you, “Do you do well to be angry?” And let Him guide you from there.

4 Myths About Your Temper

This morning I shared with my congregation—in part one of our Ticked Off! series—three myths about anger. I want to add a fourth here…

1.  Anger is a sin. 

God is angry numerous times; in fact, the Old Testament alone has hundreds of verses that mention God’s anger. In the New Testament, Ephesians 4:26 says, “…in your anger do not sin….” It doesn’t say, “don’t get angry,” but “when you’re angry, don’t sin.”

2.  Anger is always destructive. 

Some great advances have been brought about by people who got angry. For instance, Martin Luther, the father of the reformation, wrote, “When I am angry I can write, pray, and preach well, for then my whole temperament is quickened, my understanding sharpened, and all mundane vexations and temptations gone.”

3.  Anger doesn’t affect me.

Anger affects you physically. In one medical study researchers found that people who had strokes were more likely to have experienced anger in the two hours prior to having their stroke. It also affects your relationships. After you blow up, people close to you are injured and began to distance themselves from you.

4.  I can manage my anger.

Anger has a tendency to completely seize you, making it next to impossible to manage the furnace of emotions that is raging inside you. You cannot manage your anger! Instead, you need God’s help.

But more on that tomorrow…

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