There is a kind of restraint which is good, appropriate, and wise. Self-control is the fruit of the Spirit. And how we should control ourselves is toward the end of saying what is true and doing what is right, and not saying what is false and not doing what is evil.
But there is another kind of restraint which is a bit trickier, and it has everything to do with fearing man.
In the first case, when we are led by the Spirit, we act out of a deep and abiding love for and faith in Christ. In the second, we make tactical decisions to avoid telling the whole truth, and we falter as we endeavor to act in ways we know we ought to because there will be a cost.
Dovetailing off yesterday’s episode, I want to delve deeper into my own personal insecurity. And in doing that, I find that I am not taking my anxieties and worries to the Lord as I ought to be.
The truth and wisdom of God’s Word warns us against casting pearls before swine or giving to dogs what is holy.
Christ did not always answer his accusers and detractors. And neither do we need to always. Sometimes it is better to not answer a fool according to his folly lest you be like him, as the Proverbs say.
Yet there is another way to answer a fool according to his folly which refuses to feed into his being wise in his own eyes. And sometimes that way of answering is to not give the foolish scoffer and agitator the satisfaction of any answer at all.
Still other times, communicating frustration is appropriate.
The Pitfalls of Niceness
When being “nice” is so faddish and fashionable in pop-Christian culture these days, it feels sometimes as though the worst sin you can commit is to be not that. And conveying frustration, disappointment, or even sadness at the conduct of those around us is seen as not nice.
To be clear, we ought not to be irritable if we are going to be loving. But there is a difference between being irritated by an objective irritant and just being grouchy all the time.
All the same, the Lord is helping me to realize that curbing my own unnecessary and inappropriate irritation necessitates doing all I can about what is actually my part in all this. And having done all to stand, I need to accept that at a certain point it is appropriate to merely stand firm and wait on the Lord in peace and satisfaction and contentment, trusting in his ultimate goodness, faithfulness, and authority.
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