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: Unthankfulness | Part 2

In my last post in this series, I defined unthankfulness, discussed why it was a sin, and look at what it would lead to. In this post, I am going to discuss when we are to give thanks.

When are we to give thanks?

(1) ALWAYS & IN EVERYTHING – Ephesians 5:20 tells us that we are to give thanks always and in everything. For all the blessings God gives us, we are to give thanks to Him.

(2) IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES – We are not only to give thanks to God for the blessings He pours out on our lives, but we are to give thanks to Him in all circumstances. In Paul’s final benediction and instruction to the Thessalonians, he tells them to:

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thess. 5:18).

This means no matter what is taking place in your life, whether it be good or bad, you are to give thanks to God. We can give thanks to God in these difficult circumstances because of Romans 8:28-29; 38-39.

In vs 28-29 Paul writes,

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

When we look at Paul’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in light of these verses in Romans 8, we see that we can give thanks in all situations because God works all things together for good.

The good Paul refers to here is found in vs 29, and it refers to conforming us to the image of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Since all circumstances are used by God to conform, or grow, us into the image of His Son, we can give thanks in all circumstances.

Commenting on this verse, Jerry Bridges says, 

“So in situations that do not turn out the way we hoped, we are to give God thanks that He will use the situation in some way to develop our Christian character. We don’t need to speculate as to how He might use it, for His ways are often mysterious and beyond our understanding. So by faith in the promise of God in Romans 8:28-29, we obey the command of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks in [all] circumstances”[1].

We not only can give thanks because of Romans 28-29, but we can give thanks because of Romans 8:38-39, knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So then, no matter what we face in this life, if we are truly God’s children, nothing can separate us from Him, which means we can look forward to spending eternity with Him free from whatever terrible circumstances we have faced here on this earth.

Conclusion

As we have seen in these verses, we should develop the habit of continually giving thanks to God for everything we have and in all situations we find ourselves. For it is ultimately God who has given us everything we possess. This includes both tangible (possessions, job, family, etc) and intangible (intellectual and athletic ability, place we were born, etc) things.

Since God works all things together for good for all those who are in Christ Jesus, and since no circumstance can separate a true Christian from God, we should continually give thanks, knowing that even the worst circumstances we face are being worked together for our growth in Christlikeness. As well as no circumstance we face will pull us away from our Lord and Savior, whom we will spend all eternity worshipping and praising.

So may we always give thanks, never forgetting our all gracious and merciful Lord.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What are some circumstances that you would not think to give thank to give God thanks in?
  2. When you give thanks to God, is it heartfelt or nominal?
  3. Do you believe everything you have has come from the hand of God or do you believe you have earned some or most of what you have by hard work?

Scripture to Memorize 

Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Romans 8:28-29; 38-39.

Resources

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 85.

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Respectable Sins: Unthankfulness | Part 1

Do you thank God on a regular basis? When you do is it nominal or heartfelt? Do you see every circumstance as a reason to give thanks? Unthankfulness is common. So common we don’t really pay it much attention, which is why it is considered a respectable sin, and one we must deal with.

Unthankfulness Defined

When I say someone is unthankful, I mean that they do not show appreciation for the things they have been given.

Why is it a sin?

Unthankfulness is a sin because by not thanking God for all we have, we show we do not recognize everything we have is from God. Our lack of recognition and thankfulness means that we believe all we have is from our own hand. When we believe we have obtained in our own strength everything we have, then we are living ungodly lives, forgetting He is the One who has given us everything.

This is the attitude that Moses counseled against in Deuteronomy 8:11-14, 17-20. There he writes,

Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery…Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.

Moses explicitly tells the Israelites that they should not forget the Lord, who has given them everything. They were to remember:

  • The works of the Lord, which He performed when He brought them up out of the Land of Egypt and led them to the Promised Land.
  • As well as they were to remember that the Lord has given them their power and ability to accumulate wealth.

This means that nothing is gained apart from the hand of the Lord, and we should thank Him for everything we have.

It Can Lead To

The sin of unthankfulness can lead to:

(1) DESTRUCTION – In the above passage, after reminding Israel of the works of the Lord, Moses makes it clear that those who do not remember the Lord’s provisions are prone to go after other gods, which will result in their destruction. So instead of forgetting the Lord, they are to remember Him.

We are to do the same:

We are to remember that everything we have, all our abilities and possessions, are the result of the Lord’s hand in our lives.

For we too are prone to chase after other gods, trusting in them, or even in our own selves, instead of the Lord, which will ultimately result in our destruction unless the Lord intervenes and saves us.

(2) MORAL DECLINE – In Romans 1:18-32, we are told that those who forget the Lord and do not give thanks to Him (vs 21) have their foolish hearts darkened and they are given over to the lusts in their hearts. The result is the heinous list of sins that follows in verses 26-31. Not only do these sins cause a lot of heartache and trouble, but they also ultimately result in destruction.

Looking Forward

In my next post in this series, I will look at when we are to give thanks, and offer some Scripture to memorize to help with unthankfulness. Until then, reflect on the following questions.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Have you thought in the past that unthankfulness was a sin?
  2. Can you think of things in your life that you have not thanked God for giving you? If so, want you go ahead and lift up thanks to God right now.
  3. Do you agree that unthankfulness is closely related to ungodliness? How does knowing that change the way you think about the sin of unthankfulness?
  4. Do you agree that the sin of unthankfulness will lead to destruction and moral decline?

Resources

Post adapted from Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, 79-87.

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Respectable Sins: Discontentment | Part 2

Are you discontent with your possessions and money? Does your current circumstances cause you to be unhappy and unsatisfied? If so, you may be sinning.

In my last post in this series, I defined discontentment and gave a few areas where it is healthy to be discontent. Today, we turn our attention to sinful discontentment.

Why We Need to Deal with Sinful Discontentment

When we are sinfully discontent, we show that we do not believe God to be all wise, nor do we accept God’s sovereign control over our lives.

We also show that our thinking about our purpose in life is flawed. Instead of viewing our purpose in life as to bring glory to God, we believe life is about our glory. When a lack of finances, possessions, or difficult life circumstances do not work to bring us glory, then we become discontent.

These things are major issues. Issues that must be dealt with. For if they are not, they not only result in a rejection of God’s wisdom and sovereignty, along with a continued flawed view of our purpose in life, they also can lead to other sins such as resentment or bitterness.

Areas of Sinful Discontentment

(1) Money and Possessions – When we are unsatisfied or unhappy with our money or possessions, we are sinfully discontent.

The reason we are discontent in this area is because we have a desire for more. A constant desire for more reveals that our money or possessions have taken the place of God in our lives. When this happens, we no longer find our acceptance, comfort, joy, protection, and peace in God. Rather, we find it in our possessions and money, which is a problem and something we need to take action against.

Scripture

When discontentment in our finances and possessions surface, we need to remind ourselves of the truths of Scripture. Here are just a few passages to meditate on:

Hebrews 13:5-6

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

We Learn

We are not to trust in our money or possessions. Rather, we are to trust in the Lord for He alone is our helper.

Luke 3:14

Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

We Learn 

We are to be content with our wages, and we are not to extort others by threats or false accusations if we believe our wages are not enough.

Luke 12:15

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

We Learn

There is more to life than the possessions we own. The parable that follows in vs 16-21 teaches us that it is ultimately our soul that we should be concerned about.

1 Timothy 6:6-10

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

We Learn

Contentment is great gain. Knowing that we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing with us, should cause us to look at our possessions and money differently. Paul tells us that food and clothing is all we need, and we should be content with those things. As well as we learn that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils.

(2) Circumstances – When our circumstances are not what we expect, we can become discontent.

In his book Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges provides a list of possible circumstances that might cause us discontentment. Here is what he says:

  • An unfulfilling or low-paying job
  • Singleness well into midlife or beyond
  • Inability to bear children
  • An unhappy marriage
  • Physical disabilities
  • Continual poor health [1]

While this list is not exhaustive, it should be enough to get you thinking about the circumstances in your life that could lead to discontent.

When we are not content in our life circumstances, we show that we do not trust in God’s unerring sovereignty. And that is not ok, because we are rejecting God’s rule over our lives.

Scripture

The best way to deal with circumstantial discontentment is to remind ourselves of the truths of Scripture. Here are just a few passages to meditate on:

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

We Learn

Our current circumstances do not occur outside of God’s will and control, which should cause us to give thanks, knowing that somehow He will use even the most difficult circumstances to sanctify us, build our trust in Him, and to bring glory to His name.

Philippians 4:10-13

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

We Learn

The secret to contentment lies in trusting God, knowing He will provide for us and strengthen us to face every situation.

Psalm 139:16

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

We Learn

God has ordained all our days for us, and nothing happens outside of His will, knowing that should provide us with comfort. Even though we may not understand how God is using our current circumstances, we can rest assured that they are apart of His overall plan for our lives.

Commenting on this verse Jerry Bridges says,

God does nothing, or allows nothing, without a purpose. And His purposes, however mysterious and inscrutable they may be to us, are always for His glory and our ultimate good” [2].

So no matter what we are facing, whether it be unhappiness about our looks, or our job, we should find rest in the fact that God is in control. He has knit us together in our mother’s womb, ordaining our days for us.

Looking Forward

In my next post in this series, I will offer a few ways we can deal with sinful discontentment. Until then, meditate on the Scripture above and ask yourselves the questions below.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Are you currently discontent about your finances, possessions, or life circumstances?
  2. Do you believe the things you are discontent about have taken the place of God in your life?
  3. Do you believe God is all wise and loving?
  4. Do you believe God is completely and unerringly sovereign over your life?

Resources

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 71-72.
[2] Ibid., 74

Post adapted from: Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins71-77.

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Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate

Note: This is a repost of a series I started last year but did not finish. I am currently teaching this series at my church Sycamore Baptist Church, so I will be reposting the few articles I already wrote along with the new ones that will finish the series.

There are some sins that are subtle, lurking just beneath the surface, so common in our culture and churches that we are blinded to them and deceived into thinking they are not sins at all. The sins in question are what Jerry Bridges calls Respectable Sins [1]. Respectable sins are sins we overlook and tolerate because they are common subtle sins of believers. Sins like gossip, anger, worry, and frustration, just to name a few, are all respectable sins.

Why Do We Overlook These Sins?

We overlook “Respectable Sins” not only because they are pervasive, but also because they don’t seem as bad as say: Abortion, homosexuality, sex trafficking, and exploiting the poor. Our gossip, worry, and frustrations are insignificant, minor infractions in comparison, so we turn a blind eye and continue to allow them fester.

Another reason Respectable Sins exist is because we don’t realize God has called us all to be holy, to live as saints (1 Corinthians 1:2) and shine as lights in a corrupt world (Matthew 5:16). Since we think sainthood is reserved for the super Christian, we see no reason to try and act like one [2].

What is the Affect of Overlooking these Sins?

When we don’t deal with sin, even respectable sins, they start to metastasis like cancer in our Christian community, harming us and taking root in those around us.

Take for instance gossip, a common respectable sin. As a gossiper, I am not only tearing another down, and sinning against God, but I am teaching others gossip is ok. Before you know it, my sin has metastasized in their heart. They start gossiping, then those they gossip to start gossiping. Before you know it, the whole community is gossiping, and no one is willing to deal with the sin, so we all just keep sinning [3].

How do we Deal with Respectable Sins?

Like any other sin, with the gospel. The gospel teaches us Jesus not only saves us from the wrath of God, but also frees us from sin’s reign over our lives, which allows us for the first time to resist sins dominion over us.

Whereas, before salvation we could not help but sin, after salvation we have the ability to not sin.

In order to keep marching forward against sin, even respectable sins, we must daily preach the gospel to ourselves. Daily reminding ourselves God has already dealt with our sin in Christ should stir in our heart gratitude toward God and a desire to please Him by living as He has called us to live – as saints set apart for His kingdom work [4].

An Invitation

If you are interested in learning more about what sins we deem respectable and how to deal with each in particular, let me invite you to follow along each week as we journey through Jerry Bridges book Respectable Sins. It has been a real source of encouragement in my life, as well as it has opened my eyes to the sins I personally overlook and the sins my church overlooks.

Looking Forward

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be using Jerry Bridges book Respectable Sins to help us see what sins we overlook in the church and our own lives. You will probably be just as surprised as I was of the amount of sins we commit but overlook or do not realize are even sins in our lives.

Resources

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 9.
[2] Ibid., 11-22.
[3] Ibid., 23-30.
[4] Ibid., 31-38

You can purchase a copy of Respectable Sins on Amazon by clicking here.

Image: Phiseksit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net