How do the little irritations add up day after day, robbing you of your joy?
I felt the irritation rising in me, again. Another interruption during our read-aloud time and another fit from the two-year-old had me breathing out, “Jesus, I need your help,” again.
In these years of raising small children, it’s easy for me to live with a low-level irritated spirit. What I mean is, it’s easy to let all the little irritations of life affect my spirit, and I end up just plain irritated. With several children, it’s nearly impossible to accomplish anything, even venturing to the bathroom, without interruption. And it can just be irritating!
But irritation isn’t the state the Lord wants me or you to live in. What’s greater is His desire to use all of life’s irritating circumstances to conform us to the image of His Son.
Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy
James 1:2-4 says,
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
If you’re like me, you’ve read these verses before, maybe even numerous times. But do you know what struck me recently as I read them? Every time an irritating circumstance occurs, and I respond to that circumstance with irritation, I’m demonstrating what I believe about God.
And if I’m honest, I often fail to demonstrate in the moment the belief that God is testing my faith. He’s testing me to see if I believe that He is my helper, my strength, my good—if I’ll let Him be those things in the moment. It’s not that He’s testing me and giving me an A-F grade, rather, He’s testing me for my good, to build the very faith He’s testing, and to solidify assurance in my own heart of my faith.
Sure, I may say that all things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26), or that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13), but am I acting like I really believe those things in that moment?
Will you take a short trip to seminary with me?
You’re probably familiar with the word orthodoxy, which means that we believe true, right things about God (John 8:32, Romans 6:17). But what about the word orthopraxy? In short, orthopraxy is applying right beliefs that lead to us act rightly (1 Timothy 4:16, 2 John 1:9). We can sum both words up to mean right belief (orthodoxy) and right action (orthopraxy). When we believe rightly, it’s assumed that we’ll behave rightly.
Are those definitions as convicting to you as they are to me? How often do I fail to apply my beliefs to how I act? One need not look further than my parenting to see that it’s more often than I’d like to admit.
Start Counting Now
But there’s hope for me, and there’s hope for you, too, if you find yourself in a similar predicament. Once we recognize that we have not counted life’s trials (even the small irritations!) as joy and confess it to the Lord with repentance, He is kind and just to forgive us, cleansing us from that sin (1 John 1:9).
Not only that, but He stands ready to help you and me to start counting every trial as joy (Psalm 22:19).
So, the first thing that you and I need to do is confess our sin and ask the Lord to forgive us. Then, the very next time something irritating happens– a trial big or small comes our way– we need to stop. We need to stop and recognize what is happening—a trial has come our way! It is a trial and it comes with opportunity.
But simply stopping and recognizing that we are in the midst of a trial isn’t enough. We must cry out to the Lord and ask for His help. “Lord, I am tempted to sin! Help me to count this trial as a joy!”
Then, we must choose righteousness. The Lord is ready and available to help, but He is not going to do the work for us. We must choose to present our instruments—our tongues, for example—to God for righteousness (Romans 6:13). We must choose to respond with kindness rather than harshness. And we can, because we have the Holy Spirit living in us who helps us to be self-controlled (Galatians 5:16).
Sister, daily, we have opportunities to look more and more like our Savior. Let’s align our hearts to His Word, and work through the Holy Spirit to become more like Him. I’m cheering you on!