Today is the day I bare one of my secret sins. Be gentle with me, people.
There was an argument between my husband and I, many years ago now, that I remember very well. We had had many arguments before, and we have had many since, sinners that we are–but this one stands out in my memory because of something my husband said. He said, “Don’t do that again.”
He was referring to my having a temper tantrum. Yes, I have had them; I have pitched fits that would rival a two-year-old’s. I would love to pour out all my rationalizations here, but the truth is that for a long while I was characterized by yelling, screaming, kicking things across the room, etc. when I did not get my way or did not think I was being listened to. Not every day, mind you, but probably at least once a month. And yes, some of them were undoubtedly hormone-related, but that is not an excuse. And there truly is NO excuse that’s good enough to outweigh the damage that was done in my marriage and family by my lack of self-control.
Until the day The Man said, “Don’t do that again.”
I can still remember his voice and his demeanor and the look on his face. He meant what he said. Not in a threatening way, but in a way that made me take him very seriously. And he was right. So I made a very distinct and willful effort to not allow myself to lose it like that. I prayed about it, I studied Scriptures, I even fasted. It was a very large sin in my life and I wanted it gone.
Fast forward 15 years or so. In my reading recently I reached Colossians 3:8, which says, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”
I was struck by how simple the command is. It says, in effect, “Don’t do these again.” Set them aside and don’t pick them back up. Just choose not to do them. It’s not rocket science.
We love to make excuses why it’s not that simple to do, don’t we? “My husband or kids won’t listen to me if I don’t raise my voice.” “My period is due in the next few days and I am always grouchy then.” “I’m hungry/tired/don’t feel good/have a headache.” “There’s too much going on.” Etc. etc.
The fact is, we find it easier to give in to the anger than to fight against it. The abusive speech comes easier than the gentle speech does. We think we need to control the situation, and in our foolish logic, we think exhibiting anger and abusive speech will bring us that control.
But God says, “Don’t do that again.” And He means it. Will we submit to Him or continue to make excuses for why we think we cannot?
I would love to say I have never had a temper tantrum since that day. That would be a lie. In fact, there is a hole of fairly recent vintage in the drywall of our hallway, about backwards-kick height high, that reminds me of how fallible I am, every time I walk by it. (Sigh.) But I am no longer characterized by this type of behavior; it is now of fairly rare occurrence–for which I am extremely thankful.
Believe me when I tell you that growth as a Christian, especially the eradication of persistent sin, is never easy.
But it IS simple. Just submit your heart to God’s Word as found in the Bible. Stop making excuses and rationalizations and relying on your own logic. Bow down before your Creator and allow Him to change you from the inside. When you find yourself failing, repent and begin again. I’ve had to do that about a gazillion times.
Our culture bombards us with ways of thinking that emphasize the quick, easy, and self-centered. It’s all about instant gratification. The Bible says the opposite. It says to “fight the good fight” (1 Tim 6:12) and “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). This is something that must involve our entire being. When God says, “Don’t do it again,” we need to respond with whole-hearted effort.
It’s not about what we want, or think, or feel—it’s about what God says.
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