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What Matters Most to God in a Disciple? (Part 7)

“Love . . . is not easily angered . . .” (1 Corinthians 13:5b NIV).

Potentially the most impulsive—and most destructive—weakness in your life and mine is poorly controlled anger. We are inundated with angry incidents that—if we are not careful—can lead us to give ourselves “permission” to imitate those lapses of control: fiery dialogue in politics, fist fights at supposed sports events, rage on the roads, violent actions and reactions in media “entertainment,” and vicious words at home.

  God’s call to Christlike calmness in this 13th chapter is connected to Christlike patience, which we discussed in an earlier segment of this series. In fact, since patience, humility (also an earlier topic), and calmness each require significant self-discipline, this is an appropriate time to talk about self-discipline in general—albeit in the context of anger management.

  Think of self-discipline as “focusing on worthy goals instead of on distractions.” A person who is self-disciplined is, first, not easily angered. Second, if that person does become angry, the anger is controlled, subordinate to that person’s focus on a related but worthwhile goal.

  God’s warnings against angry outbursts are ancient and changeless. In Proverbs 14:17, for example, He says, “A quick-tempered man does foolish things. . . .” How well we know.

  Interestingly, the same Greek word used by Paul in this warning against anger in 1 Corinthians 13:5b is used by Dr. Luke to describe Paul himself in Acts 17! What happened?! Did his own actions contradict his teaching?

  On the contrary, his actions demonstrated his words. Acts 17:16 tells us that Paul became very angry at the many, many idols worshiped in Athens. He knew they distracted people from knowing the true God.

  However, he did not throw a temper tantrum for the public to see. Instead, he reasoned with others about this issue in the synagogue and marketplace. He disciplined himself. His mind ruled his emotions. He was “not easily angered,” but when provoked by that widespread worship of false gods, he managed his anger and channeled it into robust apologetics.

  Privately or with some friends, how would you answer these questions?

  • Conviction: What does our self-discipline reveal about our trust that God loves and leads us?
  • Kindness: On whom are we focusing—and not focusing—when we lose control and allow ourselves an angry outburst?
  • Worship: How is self-discipline an act of worship?

  Do you want to honor Him and do what matters most to Him? I do. Let’s cultivate self-discipline—especially over our anger.

  How do you expect that it will be tested this week?

  How do you expect that it will be tested today?

  What will you do to discipline anger when you feel it building up inside?

© 2018 John C Garmo

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