"Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger - for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." / James 1:19-20
It may seem that more often than not the reverse has been true of me as of lately.
One moment I can be feeling at peace, calm and exited and the next moment, snap with a quick jolt of frustration and anger. Slowness isn’t really something I think about when I talk about anger or frustration. It can be a random interruption while working, the slight meltdown of my 3 year old daughter, a swift change in plans, etc. I’ve noticed that I can let these little things pile up within me so much so that when the disruptions and jabs continue to come, I don’t even give myself a fighting chance to respond in slowness of temper and grace. I’ve lost the battle before I even entered the ring.
But it is more than mere superficial or exterior annoyances that cause me to react with a quickness of anger and frustration. The Gospel probes deeper than flesh - it reaches the places we don't know how to get to, the hidden layers of our hearts and minds we don't normally peel back. I could easily blame it on being inconvenienced by external interruptions - but the Spirit is asking, "Why do these things really bother you? What is at the root of your anger and frustration? What are you believing about God, others and yourself that causes you to act in this manner?"
If you look long enough and deep enough you will always find that what you do and how you act is shaped by what you believe. In my case, my false beliefs led me to sinful behaviors. The belief that that I was more important than others, the belief that the day should revolve around my plans and objectives, the belief that what others needed and wanted was an obstacle rather than an opportunity. You may say, “No way Christopher, you are not like that, you care for others, you love your family, etc.” Although I appreciate the flattery, I have to burst your bubble. The true and real Christopher is not always loving, not always patient, not always gracious, not always selfless. I have not allowed the Gospel of Jesus to shape shape and touch certain beliefs. I have been quick to anger - not because of what others did or didn’t do - but because of what I have believed and didn’t believe. I can’t say this enough; what you believe about yourself, others and God will directly and consistently shape what you do and how you behave. That is what repentance is all about- an acknowledging of and turning from false beliefs and a turning to and acting out of true beliefs - and it's only possible with the help of God's Spirit.
When I began to believe the Gospel and allow the truth of the Scriptures to re-shape my beliefs - I began to value people as more significant than myself, I began to see interruptions as opportunities for love and blessing, I began to believe that the world doesn't revolve around me but Jesus and His Kingdom.
I’m grateful for the Scriptures because in them I am re-directed to the truth of who I am, who others are and who God is. I am grateful for God’s Spirit because He gives me the power to change beliefs (literally repent) and alter my behavior. I’m grateful for Jesus because He was slow to anger when I am not, He was gracious when I am not and He was perfect when I could never be.
That’s the Gospel. Believe it so that you may change.