The next chapter in Respectable Sins deals with an area of my life that is been a troublesome one – impatience and irritability. Bridges distinguishes between the two by defining impatience (at least in this context) as “a strong sense of annoyance at the (usually) unintentional faults and failures of others.” Irritability refers to the degree or frequency of impatience, or “the ease with which a person can become impatient over the slightest provocation.”
I freely admit, and Bridges wisely writes, that we tend to sin in these ways more readily in familial contexts – our true character often comes out around family. Though as a sinner, I have the ability to be impatient at any time, I tend to become more irritable and impatient when I am tired. In fact, I must be pretty hard to live with when I haven’t slept in a while (right, Elizabeth?). In fact, as I write this, we are up in Pennsylvania for my sister-in-law’s graduation, and arrived at 5:30 a.m. yesterday – so sleep has been scarce for us – which means impatience and irritability are right around the corner!
But Bridges did a great job in this chapter of calling me out on a tactic I use when I’m tired and irritable – he points out that context is no excuse for sin. Context, Bridges writes, “merely provide an opportunity for the flesh to assert itself.” In fact, the actual cause of impatience and irritability lies within our hearts, not in my lack of sleep. I am just more prone to sin in those situations – I need to ask the Holy Spirit for even more grace and strength in those situations.
I am grateful that I have been made aware of this area of sin in my life, and like Bridges recommends, I have asked Elizabeth to help. More importantly, though, I need to acknowledge and repent of my impatience as sin – and not as excusable behavior based on the context. Moreover, I need to apply many exhortations of Paul in being patient: 1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 4:1-2, Colossians 3:12, etc.
There was a lot more in this chapter that is worth writing about and reflecting on, including overlooking unintentional actions, love covering a multitude of sins, and even how to not respond sinfully to others who are impatient. But I don’t want this to become burdensome or too long.