We continue meditating on the fourth fruit of the Spirit -- patience or good temper. "Temper," someone has said, "turns to bad or good according to what is behind it." Remember that the word "temper" simply means "a disposition of mind" and really requires the words "good" or "bad" to be prefixed to it if it is to be clearly identified. Dr. Stanley Jones says that there are two ways to honk a horn -- the Christian way and the non-Christian way. The Christian way calls attention to a situation; the non-Christian way not only calls attention to the situation but it also calls attention to what the honker feels about it. In the USA I once saw a sign on a car that said: "Honk away -- it's your ulcer." Ulcers are usually visible signs of an ulcerated spirit -- ulcerated by irritation and bad temper.
Whenever we lose our temper and take it out on people around us, we do the utmost harm, not to them, but to ourselves. The one who is out of sorts with someone else is usually out of sorts with himself. He projects his inner problems on to others and fails to see that the cause and remedy are in himself. I once witnessed a Sunday School superintendent lose his temper in a committee meeting, and when reprimanded by another for his bad spirit said: "I have to lose my temper in order to get anything done around here." Our text for today contradicts that view. Listen to it again, this time in the Phillips translation: "For man's temper is never the means of achieving God's true goodness." Wrong means lead to wrong ends -- inevitably.
O Father, help me to meet all impatience with patience, all hate with love, all grumpiness with joy and all bad temper with good temper. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
For Further Study
1. What did Jesus teach about anger?
2. Are you angry with anyone?