Summary: As I continue my series on the fruit of the spirit, I’ll remind you that Paul says that . . . "God’s spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient," -- I’m going to talk about patience this morning-- "kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled."
FRUIT THAT IS NEVER OUT OF SEASON
As I continue my series on the fruit of the spirit, I’ll remind you that Paul says that . . . "God’s spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient," -- I’m going to talk about patience this morning-- "kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled." Galatians 5:22
I almost had Pastor Tim preach this message. I almost said, "Tim, I think I’m going to take a Sunday off." Patience is not my greatest strength. How many of you have a problem with patience? Whoa! Why don’t I just give an altar call and we’ll all go forward? Heard a cute story the other day about a little boy in a department store. He was at the end of an escalator, and he kept watching the railing as it went around. And a salesman came and said, "Son, are you lost?" And he said, "No, I’m just waiting for my chewing gum to come back."
Joseph Haydn wrote a musical piece of which the flute player did not enter until the 75th measure, and then had only one note to play. On that 75th measure, on the upbeat, the flute player was to play that one note. And one of the people who played the flute in the Boston Symphony said, "When Haydn wrote that musical piece, he had a very special, patient person in mind."
Patience means long wrath and slow anger.
This basically means that we are to handle our anger slowly. Remember when God spoke to Moses and he said to him, "The Lord is compassionate and gracious. God is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness"? He was literally talking about patience here. Our God is slow to anger. Well, you know the fruit of the spirit are all attributes of God. Here we see the attribute of God’s patience -- he’s slow to anger. A lot of times people think that anger is wrong. Really it’s not a sin. It’s when it’s uncontrolled. Paul tells us to not let the sun go down on our anger or our wrath.
What we’re going to talk about is the root of impatience, which is anger. So we don’t want to just talk about patience today; we want to go right down to the foundation, which is uncontrolled anger. Remember patience is slow anger.
Now, as I grew up in my background, the holiness tradition, we were taught that anger was wrong, that it was a sin. If you’ve been angry at least once, raise your hand because we all have faulted a little. Because I grew up being taught that it was a sin, we never talked about anger. What I found a long time ago is that Christians, when they have sinned, they give other labels to it. So in my group growing up we were never angry, we were righteously indignant, which means we were real ticked. That’s the Greek for righteously indignant. But anger itself is not wrong. But when anger in itself is not controlled or disciplined, it begins to rage and go into all forms of impatience, and that’s where it becomes wrong. So because I always try to be very practical and applicable and relevant, let me give you the seven keys to managing your anger.
Seven keys to managing your anger:
1. Resolve to manage it.
"It is better to be slow-tempered than famous; it is better to have self-control than to control an army." Proverbs 16:32(LB)
The first thing I want you to know today is that anger can be managed. In fact, anger for a right cause, managed directly, is a tremendous attribute. Don’t you get angry about injustice and sin? And aren’t there times when it literally motivates you or compels you to do something about it?
Now, here’s where the problem comes in. When I’ve talked to people who have a real problem with anger, they’ll say, "I just can’t help myself. You don’t understand, I mean, when it happens, it happens, and I’m a volcano. I mean, I blow up." Sure you can manage it. Sure you can help yourself. Sure you can control it. I can prove that you can control anger. Let’s say that you’re really mad at your kids. I don’t know what they’re doing but boy, you’re yelling and screaming. You’re pointing fingers and all that stuff. I mean you’re really giving it to them. You know what I’m saying?
Now the phone rings. I’ve seen this happen. You are not a happy camper. But you pick up the phone and go, "Hello." Aren’t we sweet? And don’t our kids wish that they were on the other end of that phone line? Sure you can control it. You pick when you’re going to be angry. You better believe you do. That’s why you get angry at your kid behind closed doors. If the neighbor kids came over the same day and did the same thing, you’d say, "Oh, that’s all right. That’s no problem. I know you broke the vase, but it’s just a vase. It’s only been in the family for 230 years."