God has given us freedom by His grace through His Spirit. He empowered us to make decisions and choices that we were once powerless to make. While we do have the ability to make decisions and choices, we do not necessarily have the power to determine their outcome. We do not possess the capacity to control the future, which means we cannot determine every circumstance we will face in life. Granted, the decisions and choices we make can greatly influence them, but that is as far as it goes. Likewise, contrary to popular belief, we cannot control people. Sometimes, the way people interact with us can take us by surprise -both good and bad. The way we treat them greatly influences how they treat us, but there are no guarantees. Nonetheless, how we react or respond has been placed in our hands. To a large degree, preplanning can be the difference between reacting and responding.
For example, if I make a decision to be angry before something may happen a certain way or someone doesn't behave the way I think they should, I am already predisposed to anger and wrath. We've all heard people say, “If that happens, I'm going to be upset,” or “If they do that, I'm going to be mad.” On the other hand, if I purpose to walk in love and patience, I will have positioned myself to better respond to what's ahead. If I keep a disposition of forgiveness, I will be less apt to be offended by others. This is especially true if I decide not to hold what others do or say against them before the fact.
If you tend to hold an angry and wrathful disposition, why do you?
Do you enjoy the sense of power it gives you? Do you love manipulating people by your anger? Oh yes, people use anger to get what they want. Where's the freedom in that? Are you trying to protect yourself from further hurt? Have you been so wounded that you resort to wrath as the result of unforgiveness? Do you enjoy the rejection it causes? By God's grace you do not have to resort to anger. Anger that is misused is the result of selfishness. There are times when anger is appropriate. Such as when we see injustice, or when one person hurts another. However, that anger is based on love, and love never allows anger to take over. Grace enables us to control our emotions in the sense that they do not tell us what to do. For example, meekness keeps power and anger in check. It is part of the fruit of the Spirit, as is self-control (temperance). The Lord empowers us to use emotions as tools and indicators, as well as for us to experience a richer life. That is a lesson in itself. Galatians 5:22 – 23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Contentment goes a long way in relation to patience and longsuffering.
Philippians 4:11 – 13Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content. 12. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
Whether we have a little or much, we need to be content with what we have. If not, we will never be joyful, much less happy. Joy, of course, is an inner disposition that does not rely on exterior circumstances. It is based on our relationship with God. Our relationship with Him should make us the most content people on the planet. Where we live and what have should have no bearing on our joy. This includes our gifts and callings. We should never covet what someone else has; rather, we should embrace the abilities God gave us. Contentment lends itself to helping us navigate through tough circumstances with joy. That does not mean we have to like them, but we can embrace their outcome if we allow ourselves to be trained by the Lord through them. In other words, look to the result. That being said, discontentment may lead to unwanted results. Furthermore, it affects our patience with others and longsuffering during trials. Contentment and gratitude combat envy and jealousy. You have the power to decide what dispositions you hold. Grace does not make excuses for lack of patience with others, nor does it blame other for our shortcomings.
2 Corinthians 3:17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.