Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 15 – On the Control of TEMPER

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

Chapter 15 – On the Control of TEMPER

I have a temper! Each of us has an area of weakness, and mine has shown itself to be an uncontrolled temper. It was quite evident when I was young, but by God’s transforming grace, it is less so today. However, it does pop up occasionally, reminding me of my need for the important spiritual grace of “self-control” (Gal. 5:23). It appears from today’s reading of JR Miller’s Young People’s Problems that I am not alone in this weakness.

“A great many people seem to have trouble with their temper. Some years ago an English philosopher undertook an investigation. He arranged that about two thousand people should be put unconsciously under watchful eyes for a certain period, and that a study should be made of their temper. A tabulation of the reports showed that more than one-half of the two thousand were bad-tempered in various ways and degrees. Almost every adjective qualifying temper of an unlovely kind was used in defining the various shades and phases of unloveliness which were found to exist in the people under inspection.”

“It is not pleasant to believe that more than one-half of the people about us are so defective in the matter of temper. It is a comfort to know, however, that about forty-eight per cent are good-tempered in various degrees. Yet the fact that the preponderance is on the wrong side is humiliating.”

Pastor Miller points out that this issue of “very grave importance” is often viewed “as a [mere] weakness,” rather than a sin. He shows that “bad temper is unchristlike,” and that “we are like Christ, only in the measure in which we have the patience, gentleness, and good-temper of Christ.” Miller explains that it can be seen in different forms: “the malady is sulking” or “an unbridled tongue” that “scatters abroad coals of fire and sharp arrows which cause pain and anguish wherever they fly!”

So how are we to develop a “sweet temper”? Miller offers the following advice:

First, remember that change is possible. “The essential teaching of Christianity, is that human nature can be changed. …The tongue which no man can tame — Christ can.” Miller encourages us that “it is a great step in the right direction to know that one can get such a victory. …All of Christ’s strength is upon [the Christian’s] side to help him to be victorious.” Those truly alive in Christ “will never cease in [their] efforts to grow like [the] Master.”

Next, it is important to “know clearly what is to be accomplished, and to determine that the beautiful ideal must certainly be reached.… However, the lesson is not to be learned in a day.” Like the Apostle Paul (Phil. 4:10ff), “it has to be learned, too, for it does not come naturally to many of us.”

Miller reminds us however, that “self-control is really the heart of the lesson.” One’s “temper is not a bad quality; temper is an element of strength.” The issue in an unbridled temper. In fact, “a really strong man is one with strong passions and affections, which are held in complete mastery. This is the secret of a good temper.” As always, we must look to Christ; our help comes from Him, and He “lives in the heart of every disciple, a temple of the Holy Spirit.”

In summary, “every one of us should now receive the lesson of sweet temper which the Master sets, and should never intermit his diligence until the lesson is perfectly learned.”

Find the full text on Grace Gems at: 

Chapter 16 – Getting along with People

(to be continued)

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal