Quick-tempered, short-fused, impatient, impetuous, and demanding. These are all words that could easily be used to describe me.
It can be very obvious that certain characteristics and traits are hereditary – they are passed down from generation to generation. From my own family, a short temper is definitely one of those genes. A lot of people can use these inherited family traits as an excuse to continue acting in a certain way and responding in a certain way. But if it is sin then it can be overcome, and as a Christian I shouldn’t give myself any excuses for not coming to victory in every area. Even if it is something that runs so deep in me, and is so strong in my family.
Human nature or divine nature?
As a Christian I am called to radiate and proclaim God’s nature. (2 Peter 1:2-8) My life should show the virtues of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4: 10-11; 1 Peter 3:9) If I really think about what that means, it means that being around me should be like being around Jesus Himself. In any case, it should become that way more and more as the sin in my flesh – anger, impatience, frustration, etc. – gives place to the virtues instead. Now patience, gentleness and goodness come forth.
This may not be the way other people experience me now, but I know that by being faithful in my daily life I can come to this. Times where I’m tempted to be angry or get frustrated I can deny the sin in my flesh – say no to anger and yes to goodness – putting to death the sin as it tries to come up. In this way I put on the virtues of Christ . The others don’t have to experience the sinful tendencies in my flesh coming forth, not ever. Then the others around me can experience divine nature, rather than the nature that I was born with and the family characteristics that I carry!
A life of progress
The tendency to be short-tempered is one very evident example. And because it is so obvious when somebody is naturally quick-tempered, it is also very edifying to see progress in someone’s life in this area. Maybe your friend, parent, or sibling has always been quick to become annoyed and angry. But then they get gripped of being finished with their natural tendency to become annoyed, and you realize that they aren’t getting mad at you anymore. They used to be constantly mad about the things you said and did, but now, thanks to the gospel of victory over sin, they have come to personal victory over their natural sinful tendencies. This gives you a great hope for yourself! You can also get victory and experience change in your life.
I’m the kind of guy who gets jealous of the others easily and so, when my friends are having fun and I’m not invited, the natural thing would be for me to get jealous. Why was he invited and not I? Are we not friends anymore? These petty thoughts used to cause me unrest, but now I understand to put them to death and rather rejoice when the others rejoice. (Romans 12:15)
When reading the Bible, you don’t ever get a taste of the nature Jesus was born with. This is because He was constantly putting to death sin in the flesh, so that God’s nature could come forth from His life. It can be the same way with us. If I were to move to a new place tomorrow, what would new friends and neighbors experience? The old nature I was born with that’s full of laziness and impatience? Or would they experience something divine, hard-working, diligent and patient?
Of course this is a process, but I know that if I focus on divine nature coming forth then it will happen. And that is how the others will experience me.