We’ve been using a study in our Sunday School class on the fruit of the Spirit, which St. Paul lists in the book of Galatians. This has been a long study and we’re nearing the end — self-control. At the beginning of this section, one of the questions was about anger — what circumstances tend to make you angry? Anger is an emotion that often causes us to lose our self-control. We all have our hot buttons, and one of mine is customer service people, or even people in general, who don’t care about doing their jobs conscientiously. Maybe it’s because before I retired, I was a buyer, and our supervisor always stressed the need to help our customers — and our customer was anyone who called with a question or needing help. (Hmmm … sounds a bit like the who is my neighbor question, doesn’t it?) It was simply not acceptable to say “I don’t know” or “That’s not my job” or just route the caller to some other department. If we didn’t know the answer, we were to find the answer and call the customer back ourselves with the exact information or person needed. (Oh my, I fear this is becoming a rant).
At any rate, my devotional reading today was speaking right to me and the way in which I sometimes lose control. Here is the Bible verse:
“Like a city whose walls are broken through
is a person who lacks self-control.” Proverbs 25:28
In other words, when we lack self-control our emotions can easily overwhelm us. We say things we regret, and act in ways that are unbecoming to any Christian. We may think our anger is righteous, but if we look carefully, that’s rarely the case. Anger is generally all about us and not getting what we want.
The quote from my devotion was written by H. L. Sydney Lear:
“One valuable way of practising self-control is in checking grumbling, and an unnecessary display of vexation at petty inconveniences. A workman has fulfilled his task imperfectly, some order is wrongly executed, some one keeps you waiting unreasonably; people are careless or forgetful, or do what they have in hand badly. Try not to be disturbed; be just, and show the persons to blame where they are wrong, even (if it be needful) make them do the thing over again properly; but refrain from diffuse or vehement expressions of displeasure. A naturally quick, impetuous person will find that to cultivate a calm external habit is a great help towards gaining the inward even spirit he needs.”
Point taken. I’m going to try cultivating that habit of calm the next time my buttons are pushed. What about you? Where do you need to exercise self-control?
For more on the fruit of the Spirit see these posts: