Evidently the great writer Washington Irving said, “A tart temper temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.”
In marriage, a “tart temper” is sometimes thought to be simply part of the deal. We use the excuse that we are just wired that way, or we learned it from our parents, or maybe even that it’s necessary if anything is going to get done. Sadly, we think that either it’s “just the way it is” or “we can’t change who we are…”
However, God says in His word that it’s not okay to be quick tempered, because it’s not His pattern or His plan. He says that we are to be exactly the opposite of quick tempered.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5a
Would you consider yourself EASILY angered? If you lose it over having to tell your spouse more than once where her keys are, if you have three complaints ready for your spouse the minute you see them after work, if you honk the horn to get your spouse to hurry on Sunday morning, if you yell and rage because they missed the dirty clothes hamper with those socks again, if you ever yell at a spouse or child to tell them to be quiet, if you repeatedly fuss that your spouse unfairly hogs the remote control…you might be easily angered. Maybe you don’t have any of these symptoms, but you know it if you’re easily angered. Actually, if you aren’t sure whether or not this is a problem for you, ask your spouse…then gauge how their reaction hits you!
The word translated “angered” or “provoked” here in 1 Corinthians is paroxuno, which is also translated elsewhere as “stirred’. We should not be quick to get all stirred up to the point of losing control of our temper, but in keeping with the context of this entire 1 Corinthians 13 passage, we should be quick to show patience and endure, to be kind.
The idea of stirring makes sense to me because I enjoy cooking and baking, but there are different ways to mix something. Sometimes stirring is necessary, but what 1 Corinthians says is that you should not automatically turn the blender to puree or you’re just going to have a huge mess! When we skip the stir, blend, and mix settings and completely chew someone up quickly, we’ve definitely missed the mark. No matter how “deserved” you feel the anger was, it’s wrong. You are wrong if you are easily angered. I am wrong when I am easily angered.
How do we make ourselves “un-easily” angered? Is it possible to be stirred appropriately but not totally pureed or frapped? The bad news is that we can’t fix it. In all our humanness, our blender is likely to go straight to the puree setting if we are pushing the buttons…or if our buttons get pushed by anyone but Jesus!
OH but the really really GREAT news is this: God can fix it and is just begging for you to let Him change you. Let Him have the control setting on the blender of your emotions and life. You see, the passage in 1 Corinthians says that only “love” is not easily angered or provoked. The word translated “love” here is agape….yep, God’s kind of love. Agape love is the very selfless love that led Christ to die for you and me. It’s impossible for us to concoct this type of selfless love on our own, but God’s dying to give it to us and then show us how to love that way ourselves. In fact, Galatians 5:22 says that agape is actually what grows when the Holy Spirit is allowed to take up residence in and control of your life.
So the way to stop being easily angered is to give the Holy Spirit control of your life, your marriage, your emotions, your everything. How does that happen? You just ask, and then cooperate with Him.
It’s that simple. Pray…ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit. When that begins to happen, you’ll begin to feel and hear God helping you to be more patient, more loving, more enduring, and less quickly provoked. In fact, when you start to fly off the handle, ask yourself when was the last time you asked God to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Oh, you’ll still blow it, but when you do you’ll realize that it’s a symptom of the real problem in you or maybe even your marriage. Maybe you’ve not submitted to the Holy Spirit and been filled with His agape kind of love. That’s the only kind of love that is not easily angered.