Sanctification

Throwback Thursday ~ 10 Pet Peeves (with Providential Purpose!)

Originally published June 30, 2017

One of the podcasts I’m enjoying listening to right now is Mike Abendroth’s No Compromise Radio. Recently he posted a series of episodes about his pet peeves with the church, false teachers, and other ministry issues, and used those pet peeves as an opportunity for teaching and exhortation.

It seemed to be a thought-provoking way to address the issues, so I’m shamelessly emulating Mike’s idea today and discussing a few pet peeves of my own:

1. Mispronouncing or misspelling the names of false teachers being critiqued. The names that seem to give people the most trouble are Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer. There is no “L” in Osteen. It is not OLsteen or OLDsteen. It is pronounced OH’-steen (also note the emphasis on the first syllable). Joyce Meyer does not have an “S” on the end of her last name. It is Meyer, not MeyerS. When you mispronounce or misspell the name, it diminishes your credibility with followers of that teacher. People tend to think, “This person doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She hasn’t even done enough research to know what my favorite teacher’s actual name is.” Hearing Scriptural truth about your idol is hard enough. Let’s be merciful and not make it any harder for people than we have to.

2. Women who try to manipulate ministries which take a firm stance on biblical doctrine into apologizing or changing said stance by saying how “sad” or “grieved” or “depressed” or “sorrowful” they are that this ministry isn’t nicer to false teachers, more compassionate as to why women can’t submit to their husbands, etc. It reminds me of three year old little girls who have learned that if they turn on the tears and the puppy dog eyes, and burble with quivering lip, “That huwt my feewings!” when Mom disciplines them, that Mom will quickly change her mind about the punishment.

Ladies, godly women do not manipulate by saying things like this (And, as an aside, if you’re using this tactic with your husband, stop now. You’re going to destroy your marriage). If you’re not genuinely sad or grieved, what you’re saying is a lie. If something a ministry says or does genuinely offends you, the first thing you need to do is find out – from correctly handled Scripture, not your opinions – if they’re being biblical. If they are, you need to adjust your feelings so that they line up with Scripture. If they’re not, you need to speak the truth to them kindly, openly, honestly, in love, and with no hidden agenda.

3. People who comment on articles, social media posts, and so on without reading them first, especially when their comment is clearly addressed, answered, or refuted in the text. Have we really become this intellectually lazy? God gave us brains, intelligence, and literacy. We need to exercise those good gifts. The headline isn’t the extent of the writer’s thoughts. Read the article.

4. Mature Christians who positively quote, share, or re-tweet people they know (or should know) are false teachers. I don’t care if the quote itself is OK-ish. When you share something from a false teacher, others see that as your stamp of approval on that teacher, or question your discernment, or both. You’re pointing people who may be weaker brothers and sisters to false teachers. Knock it off.

5. Christian writers who consistently fail to capitalize the word Bible. I expect a surgeon to know how to handle a scalpel, a plumber to know how to use a wrench, and writers to know the rules of grammar. As Christians we should be striving for excellence in our vocations as a way to glorify God.

6. When people try to negate a general rule or biblical principle by pleading the exceptions to the rule. People point to the tiny percentage of pregnancies by rape and incest and say “See? Abortion should be legal!”. Christian women point to the exception of abusive men as though their existence exempts all godly women from the Bible’s instruction to submit to their husbands. There are always going to be exceptional circumstances like the tragedies of abuse and pregnancy due to rape or incest (and there are biblical principles for handling these special circumstances), but those exceptions do not cancel out the general rule or biblical principle that applies to the vast majority of people.

7. Women who confuse their feelings, personal preferences, and opinions with biblical truth and then attempt to use that “biblical truth” to correct others who disagree with them. You may be offended and strongly disagree with someone for calling your favorite preacher a false teacher, but your feelings and disagreement don’t mean that person is wrong. It could be that your opinion is what is unbiblical and that the other person is completely bibilically right in what she is saying. Or it could be another type of situation in which neither of you are wrong but that you’re coming at the issue from two different (yet biblical) perspectives, for example: grief over someone’s sin versus righteous anger over someone’s sin. As Christians, our feelings and opinions about things don’t really matter. We are slaves of Christ, so only our Master’s opinion matters. And His opinions are found in God’s written Word, not in our emotions. We must go to Scripture to determine what is right, godly, and good, and what is not.

8. I could write a whole article on things podcasters do during broadcasts that annoy me, but I’m working on not being annoyed by those things (plus, if I ever have my own podcast, I’m sure I’ll do all of them myself), so I’ll just mention one: repetitive linguistic idiosyncrasies and jokes. Yes, “that’s the way the cookie crumbles” but you don’t need to say it every five minutes. And, it was mildly amusing the first few times you intentionally pronounced that word wrong, but now it’s been several dozen times, and it’s just annoying. And nobody’s buying your shtick about feigning confusion over people’s names (“As Jimmy Carter once said…” “No, that was Jimmy Dean.” “I thought it was Dean Martin!”) anymore. The same linguistic joke or idiosyncrasy over and over and over again grates on my nerves. The spiritual application here? I need to be more patient and overlook things that annoy me out of love for the person doing them. I get that. I’m trying.

9. Making every event into a huge, over the top experience. When I was a kid, Vacation Bible School was a Bible story and a few songs, a modest craft, and some cookies and Kool-Aid. No theme, no decorations, no ordering hundreds of dollars worth of junk from LifeWay. Now VBS is more like Six Flags over Jesus. For centuries, worship services took place without an elaborate set, theatrical lighting, and flashing everything up on a screen. Pastors somehow managed to preach without props, costumes, or references to the latest movie. Bible studies required only (gasp!) a Bible, not a workbook, a DVD, a web site, YouTube videos, four jillion different colored highlighters, a bachelor’s degree in hieroglyphics for margin markings, and the talent of Monet for Bible art journaling.

I once saw a picture of a church in Africa. Not a church building – because they didn’t have one – but the actual church: the people. They met under a certain tree on Sundays to sing, pray, and be taught by their pastor. No programs, no flash, no bling, yet this was a successful church because it built up and trained Christians in the faith. There’s nothing intrinsically sinful about decorations, lights, or a plethora of pens, but sometimes all the hoopla and accessories distract us from our main purpose- the unfettered pursuit of Christ. When we feel like we have to do all that extra stuff – to attract people or to have some sort of feeling or experience – we’re losing sight of our purpose. Simple is good and doable and not displeasing to God.

10. My biggest pet peeve – the one that affects me the most, personally; the one that frustrates and irritates and angers me more than all the others – is my own sin. I know exactly how Paul felt, and I can’t say it better than he did, when he said:

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Romans 7:15,18-19, 22-24

Can’t you just see Paul throwing up his hands in frustration, tearing out his hair, banging his head on his desk? I drive through that neighborhood a lot. “Ugh! I gave into temptation AGAIN!” “I just repented of coveting yesterday, and here I am doing it again today!” “Why did I react to that situation with pride instead of humility? I know what Scripture says about that!” I see the goal – Christlikeness. I want to get there, but I know that’s not going to come to completion this side of Glory. And it drives me absolutely nuts.

But then I see the cross. The grace. The kindness of my Savior to forgive me. And I’m reminded to keep moving forward, to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” That it’s His work in my heart that makes me holy and enables me to obey, not my straining and striving. What a merciful and loving and gracious God!

Life is full of little (and big) pet peeves. But if we’ll submit ourselves to God, study His word, and seek to obey Him, they can have a sanctifying purpose. God can use even the most annoying irritation to sand off some of our rough edges, show us our sin, and lead us to become more like Christ.

Do you have any pet peeves?
How could God use them as tools to sanctify you?

Sanctification

10 Pet Peeves (with Providential Purpose!)

One of the podcasts I’m enjoying listening to right now is Mike Abendroth’s No Compromise Radio. Recently he posted a series of episodes about his pet peeves with the church, false teachers, and other ministry issues, and used those pet peeves as an opportunity for teaching and exhortation.

It seemed to be a thought-provoking way to address the issues, so I’m shamelessly emulating Mike’s idea today and discussing a few pet peeves of my own:

1. Mispronouncing or misspelling the names of false teachers being critiqued. The names that seem to give people the most trouble are Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer. There is no “L” in Osteen. It is not OLsteen or OLDsteen. It is pronounced OH’-steen (also note the emphasis on the first syllable). Joyce Meyer does not have an “S” on the end of her last name. It is Meyer, not MeyerS. When you mispronounce or misspell the name, it diminishes your credibility with followers of that teacher. People tend to think, “This person doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She hasn’t even done enough research to know what my favorite teacher’s actual name is.” Hearing Scriptural truth about your idol is hard enough. Let’s be merciful and not make it any harder for people than we have to.

2. Women who try to manipulate ministries which take a firm stance on biblical doctrine into apologizing or changing said stance by saying how “sad” or “grieved” or “depressed” or “sorrowful” they are that this ministry isn’t nicer to false teachers, more compassionate as to why women can’t submit to their husbands, etc. It reminds me of three year old little girls who have learned that if they turn on the tears and the puppy dog eyes, and burble with quivering lip, “That huwt my feewings!” when Mom disciplines them, that Mom will quickly change her mind about the punishment.

Ladies, godly women do not manipulate by saying things like this (And, as an aside, if you’re using this tactic with your husband, stop now. You’re going to destroy your marriage). If you’re not genuinely sad or grieved, what you’re saying is a lie. If something a ministry says or does genuinely offends you, the first thing you need to do is find out – from correctly handled Scripture, not your opinions – if they’re being biblical. If they are, you need to adjust your feelings so that they line up with Scripture. If they’re not, you need to speak the truth to them kindly, openly, honestly, in love, and with no hidden agenda.

3. People who comment on articles, social media posts, and so on without reading them first, especially when their comment is clearly addressed, answered, or refuted in the text. Have we really become this intellectually lazy? God gave us brains, intelligence, and literacy. We need to exercise those good gifts. The headline isn’t the extent of the writer’s thoughts. Read the article.

4. Mature Christians who positively quote, share, or re-tweet people they know (or should know) are false teachers. I don’t care if the quote itself is OK-ish. When you share something from a false teacher, others see that as your stamp of approval on that teacher, or question your discernment, or both. You’re pointing people who may be weaker brothers and sisters to false teachers. Knock it off.

5. Christian writers who consistently fail to capitalize the word Bible. I expect a surgeon to know how to handle a scalpel, a plumber to know how to use a wrench, and writers to know the rules of grammar. As Christians we should be striving for excellence in our vocations as a way to glorify God.

6. When people try to negate a general rule or biblical principle by pleading the exceptions to the rule. People point to the tiny percentage of pregnancies by rape and incest and say “See? Abortion should be legal!”. Christian women point to the exception of abusive men as though their existence exempts all godly women from the Bible’s instruction to submit to their husbands. There are always going to be exceptional circumstances like the tragedies of abuse and pregnancy due to rape or incest (and there are biblical principles for handling these special circumstances), but those exceptions do not cancel out the general rule or biblical principle that applies to the vast majority of people.

7. Women who confuse their feelings, personal preferences, and opinions with biblical truth and then attempt to use that “biblical truth” to correct others who disagree with them. You may be offended and strongly disagree with someone for calling your favorite preacher a false teacher, but your feelings and disagreement don’t mean that person is wrong. It could be that your opinion is what is unbiblical and that the other person is completely bibilically right in what she is saying. Or it could be another type of situation in which neither of you are wrong but that you’re coming at the issue from two different (yet biblical) perspectives, for example: grief over someone’s sin versus righteous anger over someone’s sin. As Christians, our feelings and opinions about things don’t really matter. We are slaves of Christ, so only our Master’s opinion matters. And His opinions are found in God’s written Word, not in our emotions. We must go to Scripture to determine what is right, godly, and good, and what is not.

8. I could write a whole article on things podcasters do during broadcasts that annoy me, but I’m working on not being annoyed by those things (plus, if I ever have my own podcast, I’m sure I’ll do all of them myself), so I’ll just mention one: repetitive linguistic idiosyncrasies and jokes. Yes, “that’s the way the cookie crumbles” but you don’t need to say it every five minutes. And, it was mildly amusing the first few times you intentionally pronounced that word wrong, but now it’s been several dozen times, and it’s just annoying. And nobody’s buying your shtick about feigning confusion over people’s names (“As Jimmy Carter once said…” “No, that was Jimmy Dean.” “I thought it was Dean Martin!”) anymore. The same linguistic joke or idiosyncrasy over and over and over again grates on my nerves. The spiritual application here? I need to be more patient and overlook things that annoy me out of love for the person doing them. I get that. I’m trying.

9. Making every event into a huge, over the top experience. When I was a kid, Vacation Bible School was a Bible story and a few songs, a modest craft, and some cookies and Kool-Aid. No theme, no decorations, no ordering hundreds of dollars worth of junk from LifeWay. Now VBS is more like Six Flags over Jesus. For centuries, worship services took place without an elaborate set, theatrical lighting, and flashing everything up on a screen. Pastors somehow managed to preach without props, costumes, or references to the latest movie. Bible studies required only (gasp!) a Bible, not a workbook, a DVD, a web site, YouTube videos, four jillion different colored highlighters, a bachelor’s degree in hieroglyphics for margin markings, and the talent of Monet for Bible art journaling.

I once saw a picture of a church in Africa. Not a church building – because they didn’t have one – but the actual church: the people. They met under a certain tree on Sundays to sing, pray, and be taught by their pastor. No programs, no flash, no bling, yet this was a successful church because it built up and trained Christians in the faith. There’s nothing intrinsically sinful about decorations, lights, or a plethora of pens, but sometimes all the hoopla and accessories distract us from our main purpose- the unfettered pursuit of Christ. When we feel like we have to do all that extra stuff – to attract people or to have some sort of feeling or experience – we’re losing sight of our purpose. Simple is good and doable and not displeasing to God.

10. My biggest pet peeve – the one that affects me the most, personally; the one that frustrates and irritates and angers me more than all the others – is my own sin. I know exactly how Paul felt, and I can’t say it better than he did, when he said:

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Romans 7:15,18-19, 22-24

Can’t you just see Paul throwing up his hands in frustration, tearing out his hair, banging his head on his desk? I drive through that neighborhood a lot. “Ugh! I gave into temptation AGAIN!” “I just repented of coveting yesterday, and here I am doing it again today!” “Why did I react to that situation with pride instead of humility? I know what Scripture says about that!” I see the goal – Christlikeness. I want to get there, but I know that’s not going to come to completion this side of Glory. And it drives me absolutely nuts.

But then I see the cross. The grace. The kindness of my Savior to forgive me. And I’m reminded to keep moving forward, to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” That it’s His work in my heart that makes me holy and enables me to obey, not my straining and striving. What a merciful and loving and gracious God!

Life is full of little (and big) pet peeves. But if we’ll submit ourselves to God, study His word, and seek to obey Him, they can have a sanctifying purpose. God can use even the most annoying irritation to sand off some of our rough edges, show us our sin, and lead us to become more like Christ.

Do you have any pet peeves?
How could God use them as tools to sanctify you?

Sanctification, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Irritability: 7 Ways to Fight the Red-Eyed Monster

Originally published November 21, 2014irritability

If jealousy is the “green-eyed monster,” then, surely, irritability is the “red-eyed monster.” Confession time: irritability is a sin I struggle against on a daily basis. And all too often, that red-eyed monster wins, and I lose, giving in to temptation once again. I snap at my children or my husband or the dog, not because I’m seeking to build them up in Christ, or admonish them toward godliness (and lemme tell you, the dog desperately needs this admonition), but because I’m annoyed, my agenda is being thwarted, somebody rubbed me the wrong way. Hmmm…seems like there’s a common thread there.

Me. I’m not getting things my way.

And when I put myself first by venting my frustration and anger on others instead of putting my own feelings aside in order to serve them, I am dishonoring and disobeying my Master who put everything aside to redeem me. Me. A selfish, rebellious sinner who didn’t deserve His grace. And I am not being a picture of the gospel to the person I’m being short with.

I am so deeply grateful that when I confess my sin, Christ is faithful and just to forgive me for that sin and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). If it weren’t for His grace and mercy, well, I don’t even want to think about what would become of me. But I love my Jesus, and while I’m grateful for His forgiveness, what I’d really rather do is honor Him by not sinning in the first place.

Did you know there are some proactive steps you can take to wage an offensive attack on irritability? Here are seven weapons for your arsenal. As Mr. Mandelbaum would say, “It’s go time.”

 

1. Start the day off with Bible study and prayer.

I’m not just saying that because this is a Christian article and I have to make sure I stick that in somewhere. I’m saying that for two reasons.

First, Jesus tells us to, and that’s the most important reason. In John 15:4-5, Jesus says:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Daily study of the Bible and prayer are the primary ways we abide in Christ. It nourishes and shapes our spirits and forms us into His likeness. Prayer is also the place where we can ask forgiveness for our sin and for the Holy Spirit to strengthen us for the next round of temptation.

Second, my experience bears this “abiding” thing out (and I’ll bet yours does too). When I neglect prayer and Bible study, I am far less likely to respond to irritation in a godly way. When my spiritual tank is full, however, it is much easier to be aware of, and obey, when the Spirit prompts me to keep my mouth shut, or take a deep breath and wait a minute before responding to someone.

Want to be a branch that bears good fruit? You’ve got to abide in the Vine.

2. Remind yourself where irritation comes from.

As I mentioned above, it comes from selfishness. Completely inappropriate for a Christian. While the world tells us that every feeling we have must be expressed, Jesus tells us we are to deny ourselves, not indulge our sinful flesh and vomit our emotions all over any hapless soul who stumbles across our paths.

3. Preach the gospel to yourself, and mirror Christ.

The heart of the gospel is Romans 5:8:

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Think about all the sins you’ve committed over the course of your life. Think God might have just a skosh of a reason to be irritated with you? Yep. But instead of pouring out His anger on you each time you transgressed, what did He do? He sent His precious Son to die for you. He loved. He gave.

Now, usually, when somebody irritates me, it’s not even because he’s sinning. What excuse do I have for pouring my anger out on others instead of remembering the grace God extended to me and extending that same grace to them?

4. Memorize Scripture.

Funny thing about memorizing Scripture– you get it imbedded in your brain, and the Holy Spirit causes it to pop back up right when you need it. Some verses I would suggest:

Matthew 16:24- Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Galatians 5:22-23- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5- Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

Ephesians 4:32- Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Proverbs 31:26- She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

5. Let’s get physical.

Let’s face it, when our bodies are out of whack, it’s harder to control our emotions.

  • Making sure you get enough sleep should be a no-brainer. We’re all more irritable when we’re tired.
  • Eating a nutritious diet is important, but so is eating at regular times and not skipping meals. Who’s happy with anybody when she’s starving? Also, get the right amount of caffeine for your body. Too much can make you irritable, but so can too little, depending on what you’re used to.
  • Exercising regularly is a great way to prevent irritability, but it’s also a great way to work out all those frustrations in a healthy way. Ready to let loose on somebody? Lace up the running shoes and take it out on the pavement instead.
  • Go to the bathroom. That’s right, I said it. When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go, and not just for your own sake. You can’t focus on being kind to people who are annoying you when the call of nature is demanding to be answered.
  • And, to get even more personal, ladies, chart your periods so you’ll know when PMS will be rearing its ugly head. Then, do what you can, whether it’s taking medication, eliminating things from your schedule to reduce stress, or locking yourself in your room for a few days, to curb your propensity to rip everybody’s face off.

6. Proactively manage your exposure to other humans.

Although I wouldn’t consider myself a genuine introvert, I definitely lean that direction. It’s not that I don’t love my husband, children, and others, but I’ve found that I need some time alone each day to maintain my emotional and spiritual health. In Scripture, we see that even Jesus had a similar need. Luke 5:15b-16 tells us:

…crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Also helpful is knowing who irritates you, in which situations, and why. If it’s someone you don’t have to see everyday, try to arrange your meetings with her for days when you’re rested up, hormonally balanced, and had a good long quiet time. And don’t forget to pray for patience before you meet with her.

7. Get help.

Know your warning signs of irritability and get your family and friends to help you. My husband knows when that time of the month rolls around and knows exactly how to kindly and patiently bring me back down to earth. He has also learned that it takes a couple of minutes of wakefulness for my self control to kick in. So he is quiet and doesn’t try to engage me in those moments of half consciousness when I’m just waking up.

I have also considered employing the “Muskrat Method” for my husband. If you’ve seen the movie Meet the Parents, you’ll remember that every time the dad was about to lose his temper, his wife would say, “Muskrat, Jack!” It was a code word that meant, “Hey, I see you’re about to go berserk. Let’s rein it in while there’s still a chance to opt for sanity.”

 

Irritability isn’t becoming of a Christian. Whereas patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control are fruits of the Spirit, irritability is a fruit of the flesh. What are some of the ways you fight irritability?

Sanctification

Irritability: 7 Ways to Fight the Red-Eyed Monster

irritability

If jealousy is the “green-eyed monster,” then, surely, irritibility is the “red-eyed monster.” Confession time: irritibility is a sin I struggle against on a daily basis. And all too often, that red-eyed monster wins, and I lose, giving in to temptation once again. I snap at my children or my husband or the dog, not because I’m seeking to build them up in Christ, or admonish them toward godliness (and lemme tell you, the dog desperately needs this admonition), but because I’m annoyed, my agenda is being thwarted, somebody rubbed me the wrong way. Hmmm…seems like there’s a common thread there.

Me. I’m not getting things my way.

And when I put myself first by venting my frustration and anger on others insted of putting my own feelings aside in order to serve them, I am dishonoring and disobeying my Master who put everything aside to redeem me. Me. A selfish, rebellious sinner who didn’t deserve His grace. And I am not being a picture of the gospel to the person I’m being short with.

I am so deeply grateful that when I confess my sin, Christ is faithful and just to forgive me for that sin and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). If it weren’t for His grace and mercy, well, I don’t even want to think about what would become of me. But I love my Jesus, and while I’m grateful for His forgiveness, what I’d really rather do is honor Him by not sinning in the first place.

Did you know there are some proactive steps you can take to wage an offensive attack on irritibility? Here are seven weapons for your aresenal. As Mr. Mandelbaum would say, “It’s go time.”

 

1. Start the day off with Bible study and prayer.

I’m not just saying that because this is a Christian article and I have to make sure I stick that in somewhere. I’m saying that for two reasons.

First, Jesus tells us to, and that’s the most important reason. In John 15:4-5, Jesus says:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Daily study of the Bible and prayer are the primary ways we abide in Christ. It nourishes and shapes our spirits and forms us into His likeness. Prayer is also the place where we can ask forgiveness for our sin and for the Holy Spirit to strengthen us for the next round of temptation.

Second, my experience bears this “abiding” thing out (and I’ll bet yours does too). When I neglect prayer and Bible study, I am far less likely to respond to irritation in a godly way. When my spiritual tank is full, however, it is much easier to be aware of, and obey, when the Spirit prompts me to keep my mouth shut, or take a deep breath and wait a minute before responding to someone.

Want to be a branch that bears good fruit? You’ve got to abide in the Vine.

2. Remind yourself where irritation comes from.

As I mentioned above, it comes from selfishness. Completely inappropriate for a Christian. While the world tells us that every feeling we have must be expressed, Jesus tells us we are to deny ourselves, not indulge our sinful flesh and vomit our emotions all over any hapless soul who stumbles across our paths.

3. Preach the gospel to yourself, and mirror Christ.

The heart of the gospel is Romans 5:8:

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Think about all the sins you’ve committed over the course of your life. Think God might have just a skosh of a reason to be irritated with you? Yep. But instead of pouring out His anger on you each time you transgressed, what did He do? He sent His precious Son to die for you. He loved. He gave.

Now, usually, when somebody irritates me, it’s not even because he’s sinning. What excuse do I have for pouring my anger out on others instead of remembering the grace God extended to me and extending that same grace to them?

4. Memorize Scripture.

Funny thing about memorizing Scripture– you get it imbedded in your brain, and the Holy Spirit causes it to pop back up right when you need it. Some verses I would suggest:

Matthew 16:24- Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Galatians 5:22-23- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5- Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

Ephesians 4:32- Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Proverbs 31:26- She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

5. Let’s get physical.

Let’s face it, when our bodies are out of whack, it’s harder to control our emotions.

  • Making sure you get enough sleep should be a no-brainer. We’re all more irritable when we’re tired.
  • Eating a nutritious diet is important, but so is eating at regular times and not skipping meals. Who’s happy with anybody when she’s starving? Also, get the right amount of caffeine for your body. Too much can make you irritable, but so can too little, depending on what you’re used to.
  • Exercising regularly is a great way to prevent irritability, but it’s also a great way to work out all those frustrations in a healthy way. Ready to let loose on somebody? Lace up the running shoes and take it out on the pavement instead.
  • Go to the bathroom. That’s right, I said it. When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go, and not just for your own sake. You can’t focus on being kind to people who are annoying you when the call of nature is demanding to be answered.
  • And, to get even more personal, ladies, chart your periods so you’ll know when PMS will be rearing its ugly head. Then, do what you can, whether it’s taking medication, eliminating things from your schedule to reduce stress, or locking yourself in your room for a few days, to curb your propensity to rip everybody’s face off.

6. Proactively manage your exposure to other humans.

Although I wouldn’t consider myself a genuine introvert, I definitely lean that direction. It’s not that I don’t love my husband, children, and others, but I’ve found that I need some time alone each day to maintain my emotional and spiritual health. In Scripture, we see that even Jesus had a similar need. Luke 5:15b-16 tells us:

…crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Also helpful is knowing who irritates you, in which situations, and why. If it’s someone you don’t have to see everyday, try to arrange your meetings with her for days when you’re rested up, hormonally balanced, and had a good long quiet time. And don’t forget to pray for patience before you meet with her.

7. Get help.

Know your warning signs of irritability and get your family and friends to help you. My husband knows when that time of the month rolls around and knows exactly how to kindly and patiently bring me back down to earth. He has also learned that it takes a couple of minutes of wakefulness for my self control to kick in. So he is quiet and doesn’t try to engage me in those moments of half consciousness when I’m just waking up.

I have also considered employing the “Muskrat Method” for my husband. If you’ve seen the movie Meet the Parents, you’ll remember that every time the dad was about to lose his temper, his wife would say, “Muskrat, Jack!” It was a code word that meant, “Hey, I see you’re about to go berserk. Let’s rein it in while there’s still a chance to opt for sanity.”

 

Irritability isn’t becoming of a Christian. Whereas patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control are fruits of the Spirit, irritability is a fruit of the flesh. What are some of the ways you fight irritability?