David Hegg | Our Irritability Quotient

David Hegg
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. "Ethically Speaking" runs Saturdays in The Signal.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Even if you’re not a religious person, you probably are familiar with the Bible’s famous chapter on love. It’s found in the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 13. It is verses 4-7 that we most often hear as Paul uses 9 verbs to describe what love does, and more importantly what love doesn’t do.  

At Grace Baptist Church we study the Bible together attempting to understand the original author’s intention in the words he used, and then distilling principles from his words to help guide our lives today. I’ve been preaching my way through 1st Corinthians at our Sunday gatherings and just got to chapter 13, the “love” chapter.  

As I started my study through the ways love acts and, more importantly how it doesn’t act, one word hit me with the most force. “Love is not irritable.” The original Greek word describes the action of those who are not patient, who do not forebear, and who are ready at almost any moment to react poorly to even the smallest provocation. In a preceding verse Paul states, “Love is patient and kind.” Now he wants to make sure we get it. If love is patient and kind, then irritability says something tragic about us.  

By now you’re wondering if there’s a point to this little word study. I’m hoping there is and that you’ll ponder what I’m about to say.  

As I look around at our society today, I’d have to say our “irritability” quotient is off the charts. I suppose the ever-changing, ever-invasive tentacles of COVID-19 are mostly to blame, but there’s more to it than that. Yes, we’re tired of the ups and downs, theories and promises, and especially the fact that “science” seems to be schizophrenic. And yes, we could do without the sanctimonious declarations and explanations of those who, while holding some office or position, have forgotten what it’s like to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So, yes, we all have reasons-a-plenty to be irritated, cynical, mean-spirited, and downright ugly in the way we think, talk, type and text.  

But, can we just take a beat, take a breath, and consider what all of our cynicism and hot-aired blather says about us? When did love leave on the 5 o’clock bus? When was it decided that we become a people most known for what we’re against, what is wrong, and what is so irritating?  

Let me put it another way: Are the bickering, back-biting and blistering blogs, texts and posts making anything better? Do you and I really think our irritation-fueled society, epitomized by some political leaders who are often embroiled in mean-spirited verbal jousts, is becoming a safer, richer and more enjoyable place to live and raise our children?  

Of course the answer is a resounding “No!” If insanity is walking the same path over and over and expecting to reach a different destination, then it’s pretty clear where our nation continues to head. We’re becoming a people that can’t talk to each other, won’t listen to each other, and certainly aren’t inclined to work with each other to solve the real problems that face us.   

Here’s my suggestion. In counseling married couples, and those who want to be, I have several principles. One is that, in marriage, it must never come down to husband vs. wife. When challenges, opportunities and adverse circumstances face us, the “adversarial” option is never going to work. Sure, one side will win, but only at the cost of implanting resentment in the other side.  

Rather, I suggest the “team” option where husband vs. wife form a team that takes on the challenge. That is, husband and wife vs. whatever they’re facing. And the reason this works? You guessed it. Love. Love builds synergy because it comes with respect, honor and appreciation of what someone else has to say. 

Teamwork doesn’t happen much today because love, respect and honor for one another and our country no longer play a dominant role in society. We’d rather criticize and seize on our opponents’ failures than work together to earn some successes.  

Turns out we’re becoming way too complacent in our irritability when what we need is more patience, kindness and certainly love of country, neighbor and God. We must commit to fostering more harmony and less discord; more respect and less denigration; more listening and less pontificating; and certainly more love and much, much less hatred, bigotry and power-mongering.  

I still believe America can be a place that works for everyone but it’ll take everyone working to live up to our highest ethical standards. So, start looking at the good around us, and think about love in terms of honor, respect and care for others. And, if you want to jump-start the process, maybe take a read through 1 Corinthians 13.   

 Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays. 

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS