Are You Frustrated? (tiskul)
Robert Wurtz II
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please [his] neighbour for [his] good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. (Romans 15:1-3)
It has been said that frustration is the feeling we get when we can’t be God. If we can’t control people or circumstances, we get frustrated. To complicate matters, when we want to be spiritual we exchange the word frustrated for discouraged. We get frustrated when we are bent on something going a certain way and it turns out differently. Life is loaded with opportunities to get ‘frustrated.’ But is it a right feeling?
It may be of interest to know that the concept of being frustrated (frustration) is not really biblical. The Hebrew word for frustration (tiskul) did not appear in Jewish vocabulary until the mid-seventies. In fact, before the word was absorbed into the language people who spoke only Hebrew were never frustrated. They may have been “angry” or “disappointed,” or they may have experienced a sense of turmoil in certain situations, but the acute sense of frustration was unknown to them until it was translated from the English language. (Grossman. See under: Love, p.441) Grossman comments later in an interview about this fact, “And how happily we all became frustrated when we got the word.”
We have this definition of frustration from the New Oxford American Dictionary (c. 2005-2009):
frustrated |ˈfrəsˌtrātid|adjectivefeeling or expressing distress and annoyance, esp. because of inability to change or achieve something : young people get frustrated with the system.
This word dates middle-15th century and is from the Latin frustratus, pp. of frustrari “to deceive, disappoint, frustrate,” from frustra (adv.) “in vain, in error,” related to fraus “injury, harm” (see fraud). Related: Frustrated; frustrating. The word carries the idea of something being an impediment to the success of what was planned or hoped. It is amazing how distressing it can be when things don’t go the way we want them to or the way we think they should. Notice how the New Oxford uses the word in a sentence, “young people get frustrated with the system.” Why? Because they are young and usually incapable of effecting change. Couple that with idealist notions and you have a perfect recipe for frustration. How does this play out in the churches of God? Do people get frustrated? Do leaders? Do members of the churches? If so, what is the solution? Our text gives the solution, We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
My Way or the Highway
Contextually, the passage is about laying down our rights as Christians in matters of personal conviction. The weak person may think some things are wrong in an absolute sense, while in some cases they are not wrong at all. It would be easy to get frustrated with the person trying to explain to them why some certain thing is not always wrong and they are not getting it or are not willing to think through things. What complicates matters is that folks often only care about their own point of view. They are not interested in coming to an understanding or looking at things from a different perspective. In the case of our text it is with issues of conscience such as eating things sacrificed to idols, holy days, etc. What happens? When you finally get tired of trying to explain things you may get frustrated and just assert your ‘rights’ as a Christian. You may not even bother trying to explain yourself and say, “Well, that’s on them. They should have sense enough to know these things.” But is that the right approach?
Laying down rights
Paul stresses that we ought not to demand our rights, but ought to consider what may edify others. Instead of doing things that build ourselves up, focus on building up others. At Rome and Corinth there were believers that may have eaten food sacrificed to idols not knowing that they were compelling others that believed it was wrong to follow their lead. They had liberty, but possibly at the expense of a person’s soul. If we do things that we believe are OK for us in the presence of those that feel differently we might compel them to transgress their conscience. It is better to abstain from a thing than to put another persons soul at risk. One might say, “but I don’t feel it is wrong to do ______.” Very well, but what about how it effects others? This is what is in view. How does my asserting my rights effect other people? How does it effect the body of Christ?
The key to unity
Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5, 6)
It has been said that, any area of our life that is not surrendered to God will be an area of frustration in our life. One of the great characteristics of spiritual leaders is that they prefer their brothers and sisters and don’t demand their own way. We have to lay down our hopes and dreams. Why? We all have different hopes and dreams and views of how things ought to be done. Where we get into trouble is when we want to fulfill our hopes and dreams and impose our views upon others and then get frustrated or discouraged when we catch resistance. In fact, I suggest that the more power a person has to impose their personal desires, the more risk of division and discouragement come to play in the churches of God. This is what Paul is warning of in Romans 15. His solution? Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus. The challenge is that we have an organizational structure that militates against this precept. Too many people are wanting to build their own name and kingdom. How can I be likeminded with Christ if I’m thinking like the world? That’s where the frustration comes from. We simply can’t enforce worldly attitudes in the Kingdom of God and expect harmony. It don’t work. It will break down the unity. When the unity breaks down the machine breaks down.
Why God’s way?
Paul answers, That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The key to unity and glorifying God is a Christ-like attitude towards our own will. How can we do this?
1. bear the infirmities of the weak
2. [do] not to please ourselves
3. Let every one of us please [his] neighbour unto edification
4. be likeminded one toward another
5. with one mind and one mouth glorify God
This attitude is supplemented by the grace of God for the promotion of the edification of the Body and the glorification of Himself. God is not glorified when there is strife and disunity. the key to unity is not to impose your will, but to lay down your will. Think about what others are wanting to do or what they need for edification. No excuses. No blaming others. No frustration. Why? Because frustration points the finger at others and blames them because our will is not carried out. We have to lay down our will and maybe even what we think is God’s will. Selah. If were not walking by this rule there is likely no way we know God’s will anyway, because we are disobeying Him in trying to find it.