Respectable Sins: Anger | Part 1

Angry Birds

This week we continue working through Jerry Bridges’ book Respectable Sins. The respectable sin for this week is anger. Let’s get started by defining anger.

Anger Defined

Anger is defined as:

A strong feeling of displeasure and usually antagonism often accompanied by sinful emotions, words, and actions hurtful to those who are the object of our anger.

Righteous Anger

One form of anger is righteous anger. We would like to think this is the form of anger we often exercise, but most of the time it’s not. How do we know? We can employ two tests to see if our anger is righteous.

Two Tests

First, do we perceive the action of another as true evil that is a violation of God’s moral law?

If we do see it as a violation of God’s moral law, we should be concerned about God and His will, not concerned about ourselves and our will. In other words, is our focus on God and His will or on me and my will?

Second, are you in control when you are angry?

Those who are angry for righteous reasons are not out of control. They do not lose their temper, nor do they seek vengeance.

Conclusion of Two Tests

I believe when we employ these two tests, we find our anger is not as righteous as we first thought. Even if we are “reacting to another person’s real sin that does not necessarily make our anger righteous. We are likely more concerned with the negative impact of the sinful actions on us than we are that it is a violation of God’s law. Or we may even use the fact that it is a violation of God’s law to justify our own sinful angry response.”[1] If either of these cases are true, then our anger is not righteous anger, but sinful.

An Example of Righteous Anger

Jesus cleansing the temple is an example of righteous anger. Look with me at the following two verses.

John 2:13-17

“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”” 

Mark 11:15-17

“And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”

When we apply the test above to Jesus’ actions, we see that: 

  • Jesus had a valid concern for the Lord’s will – He did not want the temple to be a den of robbers, but a house of prayer.
  • Jesus did not retaliate in a vengeful way.
  • Jesus is self-controlled.
  • Jesus did not lose His temper.

We can conclude that Jesus’ actions were done in righteous anger.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Can you think of sins others commit that would cause us to be more concerned with the negative impact on us than on God?
  2. Have you ever used others violation of God’s law as a way to justify your own sinful anger?

Looking Forward

The next post in this series will deal with sinful anger and its causes.

Resources

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 122.

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Respectable Sins: Impatience & Irritability | Part 2

Last time I took up the topic of impatience. Closely related to impatience is irritability, which is today’s topic.

Irritability Defined

“Describes the frequency of impatience, or the ease with which a person can become impatient over the slightest provocation.”[1]

This definition reveals that impatience and irritability are closely associated. So much so that we can say “the person who easily and frequently becomes impatient is an irritable person.”[2]

Irritable people are impatient most of the time. They are the type you have to tip toe around. The grouchy person, the one no one wants to be around those are who we would consider to be irritable people.

As Christians, irritable people do not serve as a good witness for the gospel. They are not able to lead others. They are not good accountability partners. For these reasons, and that irritability is a sin, we should rid it from us.

How do you respond to an irritable Person?

We have two options when it comes to responding to an irritable person:

(1) Jesus’ Example – In 1 Peter 2:23, “when he [Jesus] was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

Jesus did not retaliate and neither should we. Rather, we are to allow God to judge and deal with those who are criticizing or insulting us.

(2) Confront the Person – A conversation with the person who is continually impatient or irritable towards us is at times necessary. We must not be afraid to confront others about their sin, but we have to be cautious here. We should not confront the person until we “have resolved the issue in [our] own heart and can speak to the other person for his or her benefit.”[3]

Remember if we choose to follow step two and the person does not respond well, we should not blow up on them, or walk away seething. Rather, we should revert to step one and allow God to judge and deal with the person. As well as we should pray that the Holy Spirit would convict them and work in their heart to remove their sin.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Have you ever confronted an irritable person? How did it go? Where they defensive or did they respond well?
  2. Why is it important that we not be irritable people?

Resources

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 118
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.,119

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Respectable Sins: Impatience & Irritability | Part 1

This week we are going to take up the subject of impatience and irritability. In order to do them both justice, I will look at impatience today and irritability in my next post in this series. Let’s start by defining impatience.

Impatience Defined

“A strong sense of annoyance at the (usually) unintentional faults and failures of others.”[1]

Notice Jerry Bridges uses the word unintentional faults and failures. These are things that people cannot help given their life circumstances or physical limitations.

For example, if someone’s hearing is bad, we should expect to have to repeat ourselves, or that that they will misunderstand us. When those things occur, we should not become impatient.

There are other unintentional faults or failures that should not cause us to be impatient, but often do, such as:

  • People not running on your time schedule.
  • Traffic / Slow drivers.
  • Parents impatient with their children not learning what they want them to learn quickly.

The Heart Sin Impatience Reveals

The sin of impatience reveals our desire to be in control by desiring others to conform to our expectations. If that is true, then the events in our lives are not necessarily the things that cause impatience, they are just the means by which the sin of control is manifested in our lives.

The Environment Conducive to Impatience

Impatience often, but not always, manifests itself in our homes. While it is easy for us to be patient with those in public places, it can be difficult at times to exercise the same patience with those under our own roof.

Why is this so?

Our homes provide us with a certain level of comfort. The environment and the people are not new to us. We know them and what they think about us. We don’t worry so much about our appearance or even winning them over. Our increased comfort often allows our true character to shine forth. This is why, like it or not, the home is a great place for sanctification.

What does Scripture have to say?

There are several scriptures that speak to impatience. Let’s take a look at them now.

1 Corinthians 13:4

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

1 Thessalonians 5:14

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

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.

Ephesians 4:1-2

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

Colossians 3:12-15

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Scripture reveals impatience is a sin. When we are impatient, we are not loving, we are not manifesting the Fruit of the Spirit, we are not living in a manner worthy of our calling, and we are not acting as God’s chosen ones.

How to Deal With Impatience

We can deal with the sin of impatience by praying the Lord would convict us and empower us to rid this sin from our lives.

In addition, when we sense ourselves growing impatient, we should preach the gospel to ourselves. Reminding ourselves, as Paul did Timothy, that in saving us God exercised His patience toward us (1 Timothy 1:16). If God, the Ruler of the universe, exercised patience towards us while we were rebelling against Him, then we can exercise patience toward someone who is not running on our schedule.

Moreover, we need to remind ourselves that God is the One who is in control. The circumstances that occur in our lives are sovereignly brought about and are used by Him to teach us and grow us, even the ones that might give us opportunity to become impatient.

Questions for Reflection

  1. In what area(s) of your life are you impatient?
  2. How have things gone when you have confronted someone who is impatient?
  3. How do you react when people are impatient with you? If you have reacted negatively, what was the result?
  4. Can you think of a reason why in God’s sovereignty He would allow you to encounter an impatient person?

Resources

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 116

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Respectable Sins: Self-Control | Part 3

This week, I am focusing on the Respectable Sin of Self-Control. In my last post, I dealt with self-control with our temper. In this post, personal finances will be the main subject.

Personal Finances

Christians, along with the rest of the nation, are in financial debt. One statistic said that on average Americans are in 7,000 dollars worth of credit card debt [1]. That tells us that as a nation, we are not exercising self-control when it comes to our finances. Instead, we are indulging our desires with new clothes, the latest electronic gadgets, expensive vacations, etc. By buying these things, we are going into more debt.

Why are we doing this to ourselves?

Consumers consume hoping it will satisfy, but it doesn’t. Instead it leaves us empty, and wanting more to fill that void, so we buy more. We do so under the false notion that our next purchase will be what we need to fill us up, but it doesn’t either. Instead massive debt piles up as we try and fill a void only Christ can fill.

Why is it important we exercise self-control?

If we do not exercise self-control, then our desires end up controlling us rather than us controlling our desires. As well as Scripture commands us to exercise self-control. Here are a few verses:

  • Proverbs 25:28
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • 2 Timothy 3:3
  • Titus 2:2,5,6
  • Titus 2:11-12
  • 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8
  • 2 Peter 1:5

For those reasons, it is important we exercise self-control.

Is debt the only sign that a person lacks self-control? 

No, those who are affluent also fall into this category. A lack of self-control does not necessarily correlate with our bank accounts.

How do we know that we lack self-control in our finances?

We know we lack self-control in our finances when we indulge ourselves in whatever our hearts desire.

How do we rid ourselves of this sin?

The writer of Ecclesiastes helps when he says,

“I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” (Ec 2:1–11)

The writer of Ecclesiastes teaches us that indulging ourselves is vanity. It will not provide us with the joy we are seeking. The only thing that will provide us with true joy and satisfaction is Christ.

How can we exercise self-control?

Jerry Bridges wisely says,

“Biblical self-control is not a product of one’s own natural will power”[2].

That is because it requires us to exercise self-control in all areas of life. While we may be able to exercise self-control in certain areas in order to gain something, it is impossible for us to do so in our own power in every area of our lives. For example, an athlete exercises self-control with their diet in order to perform better, but they may not exercise self-control in their spending habits.

So then, how do we exercise self-control in every area of our lives? Only through the power of the Holy Spirit and a continual exposure to the Word of God are we able to exercise self-control in every area of our lives. You see, self-control “requires an unceasing conflict with the passions of the flesh that wage war against our souls (see 1 Peter 2:11)”[3]. The only way we can consistently exercise that level of self-control is by the influence and enablement of the Holy Spirit. This lead Jerry Bridges to say,

“Continual exposure of our mind to the Word of God and continual prayer for the Holy Spirit to give us both the desire and power to exercise self-control [is required]. We might say that self-control is not control by oneself through one’s own willpower but rather control of oneself through the power of the Holy Spirit”[4].

Questions for Reflection

  1. What do you believe Americans buy that get themselves into such massive debt? Why do they buy these things?
  2. Does your shopping habits reveal a lack of self-control when it comes to your finances?
  3. What do you hope excessive spending will provide for you?

Resources

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 113.
[2] Ibid., 110.
[3] Ibid., 111.
[4] Ibid.

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Respectable Sins: Self-Control | Part 2

This week, I am focusing on the Respectable Sin of Self-Control. In my last post, I dealt with self-control with our eating and drinking. In this post, temper will be the main subject.

Temper

Let’s start by painting a quick picture of a person with a hot temper:

A person with a hot temper tends to be one who has quick but intense bursts of anger often followed by a calm disposition. They tend to become easily angry or irritable, and they exercise little or no control over their emotions.

What is often the cause of these outbursts of anger and who are they directed towards? 

Outbursts of anger are usually directed against anyone who displeases us. A driver on the highway who cuts us off. An umpire who makes a bad call. A family member who challenges us. A dog who constantly play bites when play time is over. These all can cause outbursts of anger, as well as they are the ones’ the anger is typically directed towards.

What does Scripture have to say?

Scripture has a number of warnings about those who are quick tempered. Let’s look at some of those:

“A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated.” (Pr 14:17)

“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Pr 16:32)

“A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.” (Pr 17:27)

“Know this, my beloved brothers: 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. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (Jas 1:19-21)

So we see that a quick tempered person is quick to speak. His words are not carefully consider. Rather he speaks foolishly. He is not wise. And he does not produce the righteousness of God. Not a great list of qualities.

How do we rid ourselves of our temper?

We have to put away all filthiness (moral uncleanliness) and rampant (something spreading unchecked) wickedness. We do that by allowing the word of the gospel implanted in us to convict and teach us. After which we must exercise self-control with our temper, which we can only do through the power of the gospel.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Can you think of a time when you spoke too quickly because of your quick temper? What was the result?
  2. Can you think of any Scripture you would point others to who are dealing with a lack of self-control in regard to temper?
  3. When do you notice your temper flaring?

Resources

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 112

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Respectable Sins: Self-Control | Part 1

This week, we will focus on three areas in which Christians fail to exercise self-control. This list is not meant to be exhaustive; rather it is meant to get us thinking about self-control and the areas in which we might not exhibit it. The three areas we will focus on are:

Before we deal with each area, let’s start by defining self-control.

Self-Control Defined

“It is a [governing] or prudently controlling of one’s desires, cravings, impulses, emotions, and passions. It is saying no when we should say no. It is moderation in legitimate desires and activities, and absolute restraint in areas that are clearly sinful. It would, for example, involve moderation in watching television and absolute restrain in viewing Internet pornography”[1].

Why is self-control so important?

A lack of self-control opens the door to other sins.

For example:

  • “A lack of control of our tongue…opens the door to all manner of defiling speech such as sarcasm, gossip, slander, and ridicule”[2].
  • A lack of control of our eyes opens the door to watching pornography, or adultery.

Now that we have the definition and know why it is important, let’s turn to the first area where we commonly do not restrain ourselves, and that is in our:

Eating and Drinking

I have to admit, I personally struggle with self-control in this area, especially when it comes to sweets. I have a major sweet tooth, making it hard for me to turn down a counter full of amazing desserts. Even though it is difficult, I must practice self-control.

Why would it be important that I, and we, practice self-control when it comes to eating and drinking?

If we do not practice self-control with our eating and drinking, we may be doing a number of things:

(1) We may open ourselves up to health problems

  • These could range from a heartache to a stroke or even to diabetes. All of which can either take our lives, or severely hinder our ability to function, which means our work and impact for God’s kingdom is then hindered.

(2) We may be weakening ourselves when it comes to other critical areas where exercising self-control is necessary 

  • We cannot pick and choose in what areas we exercise self-control. Instead, we must exercise self-control in all areas of life. For if we don’t, then we may be opening ourselves up to a lack of control in other more critical areas.

How do we exercise self-control in our eating and drinking?

(1) Remove the Temptation – The best way to exercise self-control in this area is by removing the temptation. For me, this means not keeping sweets on hand at our house. Or when I go to Starbucks, it means that I walk past the case of delicious looking pastries quickly, while telling myself they are too expensive and the calories are not worth it.

(2) Prayer – Beyond exercising sheer will, thinking about the calories, and the cost, we need to pray. Pray that the Lord would strengthen us in this area.

(3) Accountability – Along with prayer we need to develop an accountability system. Tell someone your struggles and your plan, then have them hold you accountable.

(4) Think on Christ – Lastly, we must realize our joy and comfort is found in Christ. It is not found in the food we eat or the drinks we drink. While we can enjoy food and drink, we need not run to them for our joy and comfort. Christ is our perfect comforter, who will never leave us, nor forsake us.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you struggle with self-control when it comes to eating and drinking? How do you handle it?
  2. Do you find more comfort in food and drink than in Christ?
  3. Have you thought of setting up an accountability relationship? If you have, what does it look like?

Resources

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 110
[2] Ibid.

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