Institute in Basic Life Principles

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How should I deal with irritations?

Responding to Irritations
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Irritations spring from many sources: the people around you, the environment you live in, and the details of your personal life.

The things that aggravate you usually influence your attitudes and actions. If you respond to irritations in a positive way, you can begin to resolve anger and worry and you can grow in maturity. In the Bible, God promises that all things will work together for good in the lives of those who love Him. (See Romans 8:28–29.) Even your irritations are present for a reason, and your response to them matters.

Identify Irresolvable Irritations

You can resolve some irritations. For example, a squeaky door can be oiled. A pesky personal habit can be changed. An angry neighbor can be appeased. Be willing to do what it takes to resolve these issues.

It is beyond your power to resolve all irritations. For example, people may have personality traits that annoy you, traffic issues might not get worked out, or a physical problem could affect the way you live. However, your responses to these issues are significant. God can use unavoidable irritations to increase your sensitivity to the needs of others, expand your opportunities, and develop your inward character.

If you react wrongly to irritations, you forfeit the benefits they can provide. However, as you respond to them with insight and proper action, you welcome God’s work in your life, allowing Him to achieve His highest purpose for you—to make you like His Son, Jesus Christ.

Respond to Irritations With Faith and Patience

When you are irritated, it is tempting to respond by defending yourself, blaming others, or getting angry. These responses do not resolve the irritation but instead set you on a path toward more anger and frustration.

Choose the following responses when you are irritated. As you honestly address the situation before God, your irritations can become a classroom of maturity.

  1. Thank God for the irritation.

    If you have received God’s gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, you can be confident that God is using everything—even your irritations—to accomplish His purposes in your life. (See Romans 8:28–30.)

    “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18; also see Philippians 2:14–15). When you face irritations, keep these truths in mind:

  • I belong to God.
  • God wants the best for me.
  • God is bigger than the source of irritation.
  • God has allowed the irritation for my ultimate benefit.
  • God’s work and reputation are affected by my response to this irritation.
  • Identify possible causes.

    Consider if you have contributed to the cause of the situation. Ask the following questions:

    • Did I cause this irritation by something I did or failed to do?
    • Does this irritation reflect a personal fault or lack of character development in my life?
  • Determine ultimate objectives.

    Ask God for insight into His purposes and plans. Ask the following questions:

    • Lord, what character qualities do You want to develop in my life?
    • Father, how do You want to use this irritation to help me develop those qualities?

    Reflect the Love and Light of Christ

    The process of maturity that occurs as you respond well to irritations resembles the process of cutting and polishing a precious gem. Through careful planning and precise actions, smooth facets are created on the surface of the stone to increase the gem’s capacity to reflect light. As you learn to respond to irritations with faith and patience, your life will reflect the love and light of Jesus Christ with greater brilliance.

    “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body” (II Corinthians 4:8–10).

    This material is adapted from the Basic Seminar Textbook, pages 92–99.

    For Further Study

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