Secrets of Healthy Relationships: Patience

In Proverbs 29:11 we read: A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. Keeping our control in an imperfect world is not easy.  But we must do it.  If value our relationships, we must obey what God tells us in I Corinthians 13:4 that “Love is patient.”  However, we can't talk about patience without talking about anger. Patience is about being “slow to become angry.”  This you mean you have a long fuse. You don't boil over quickly.  You know how to manage your anger. Anger is not wrong.  God gave you the capacity to get angry.  Sometimes anger is the appropriate response to a situation.  But it must be managed.  It's got to be controlled.  Anger out of control is very destructive in your relationships.

But anger in control is an asset.  Let’s learn how to keep anger under control.

1. Resolve to Manage It  Quit saying that you can't control you anger; start believing that you can.  Quit making excuses and accept responsibility.  You have far more control over your anger than you think you do.  The key is to make up your mind to manage anger.  You decide in advance before you get angry how you're going to handle it. Unless you learn how to do this, you're never going to have healthy relationships.

2. Realize the Cost of Uncontrolled Anger You're less likely to get angry if you realize what it's going to cost you. There is always a price tag when you get angry.  When you lose your temper you're the one to lose.  You always lose out. Proverbs 11:29 says:  The fool who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left.  Anger destroys relationships.  If you don't get this in control, you will have nothing left.   Anger always produces other anger back, apathy, and alienation.  It strains the relationship.

3. Reflect Before Reacting  Don't respond impulsively.  Delay is a tremendous tool and a great remedy in anger.  Anger delayed gives it time to cool down.  Thomas Jefferson said "When you're angry you count to 10 and when you're very angry, count to 100."  Why?  It gives you the chance to slow down the emotional energy fueled by the adrenalin rush.   The longer you hold your temper, the more it improves.  It gives you some time to think about what you're angry about and reflect on it. What do you do during the delay?  Pray and ask God to help you understand your anger.  Why am I angry?  What do I really want? What do I really want out of this relationship?

4. Release Your Anger Appropriately  Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. There are right ways to get angry and wrong ways to get angry.  There are appropriate responses and inappropriate responses.  There are helpful ways to be angry and there are harmful ways to be angry.  If you become angry, don't let your anger lead you into sin.

5.  Re-pattern Your Mind If you have a habitual pattern of dealing with anger in an inappropriate way, do what is written in Romans 12:2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. The Bible makes very clear: the way you think determines the way you feel.  And the way you feel determines the way you act.  If I'm angry it's because I feel angry.  And if I feel angry it's because I'm choosing to think angry thoughts.  If I want to change my behavior or my feelings, I've got to change the way I think.

6. Relate to People Who Are Patient  Proverbs 22:24-25 says, "Do not make friends with a hot tempered man.  Do not associate with one easily angered or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared."  Is anger contagious?  You better believe it!  It's infectious!  Highly infectious!  If I started yelling at you, eventually you'd probably start yelling at me. Anger is contagious.  When we get it out, other people pick it up. If you are serious about breaking this pattern in your life, you need to hang out with some people who have are peaceful and patient.  That is one of the reasons why we have church.  This is not a perfect place; there are no perfect people here.  This is for people who want to grow.  But the people who come to church are at least making an effort to do what's right which is better than a lot of people are.

7.  Relay on Christ's help. Romans 15:5 says, “May God who gives patience, steadiness, and encouragement help you to live in complete harmony with each other, each with the attitude of Christ toward the other."  Would you like to have patience, steadiness and encouragement in your relationships? Would you like to be able to live in complete harmony with each other?  The answer is the last phrase "each with the attitude of Christ toward the other."

How does Jesus Christ help you control you anger?  Here's how He does it.  Jesus Christ helps you deal with it by dealing with the root cause.  He deals with the real reason that you are angry.  If the root cause of your anger is hurt, Jesus can replace your hurt with His love.  When Christ is in your life you don't have to control it all.  You don't have to feel like it's all together. You can relax because He's got it all under control.  He knows what's best for me.  His power replaces all your insecurity.

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