Small decisions that can make a big difference – Work on your temper

There is a very well known Brazilian song that was the theme of a famous soap opera in Brazil. The song is called: “Modinha Para Gabriela” by Gal Costa. The chorus of the song goes this way (free translation):

“I was born like this,

I grew up like this,

I really am like this,

I will always be like this, Gabriela

Always Gabriela”

Does it sound like someone you know, perhaps a colleague, a friend, a relative, or yourself? Many of us who struggle with our tempers most of the time use something like this as an excuse: “I am this way,” or “I was born this way,” and some go to the extreme adding, “And I will not change.”

The word temper means: “a particular state of mind or feelings, a habit of mind, especially with respect to irritability or patience, outbursts of anger, or the like; disposition, heat of mind or passion, shown in outbursts of anger, resentment, etc.”

A Christian is supposed to have his or her temper under the control of the Holy Spirit. I am not saying that it is going to be easy, but it is a journey that every one of us must take. The Bible tells stories of some people with a temper problem. Saul (1Sam. 20:7) was one of them; violence was always present when he lost his temper. He tried to kill David many times.

Another example is a prophet, Jonah (Jonah 4:9). After seeing God being merciful with Nineveh, he lost his temper because of something insignificant, a plant. That poor plant was the last straw. We also have one of Job’s friends (Job 32:2), who lost his temper with Job, even though he knew that Job was going through a terrible time in his life.

As you can see, among others, we have a king, a prophet, and a friend with a temper problem. That means we are not immune to it. Because of that I would like to suggest a few steps to help you or someone you know to control their temper.

The first step is to recognize that you have a problem with your temper and that you have a short fuse. This is not difficult to find, but it is hard to accept as a problem. We always find something and someone to blame.

The second step is to let the Spirit of God and His Word work on your temperament. God knows you and He is interested in changing you, and that includes your temper. Yes, God can change your temper; you just need to let Him do it. Study the Word and prayer should be a crucial part of this regimen.

The third step is to ask for help and prayers from your friends. If you recognize that you have problem, share with someone who you trust and ask him/her to pray for you and with you. We cannot go alone in these battles.

The fourth step is to find situations where it is easy for you to loose your temper and avoid them. You know when the conversation is going in a direction that will be hard for you to control yourself, not to raise your voice, or not to say something that you will regret later. Just, stop, say that you will come back to that topic on another occasion, and leave, or change the subject. Plan an escape route, so you will not be caught by surprise.

Finally, recognize when you did something wrong and apologize. Do not be ashamed to tell people that you are working on your temper but you are not there yet. Avoid finding excuses for your outbursts; just say, “I am sorry, please forgive me.”

Remember, this is a lifetime journey. You will have to watch your temper your whole life.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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