‘If y’ain’t cool all the time, y’ain’t cool’

Faith & Inspiration | It’s to our credit when we resist the temptation to lash out when our buttons are pushed
by Andrée Seu Peterson
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, at 11:04 am

Living in a house of four Christian adults should be smooth sailing. And for the most part it is. You will find no acrimony here unless one of the four does something that annoys another of the four. When that happens the annoyed person loses his temper and says regrettable things. But as I said, most of the time things go smoothly.

Of course, you might notice if you think about it that this isn’t saying much. What credit is it to someone if he is kind, patient, self-controlled, and not rude 95 percent of the time, if it is easy to be kind, patient, self-controlled, and not rude 95 percent of the time? This is not difficult. This is what a pagan can do just as well as a believer. In fact, the words “kind,” “patient,” “self-controlled,” and “not rude” do not even apply in non-annoying situations. These terms only derive their meaning in the context of annoyance.

To borrow a metaphor, observing the municipal traffic ordinance to go one way down a one-way street is not particularly laudable if you want to go that way anyway. You get no badge for that. But if you are sorely tempted to drive in the opposite direction down the one-way street I live on, perhaps for some momentary convenience, but you resist that particular temptation, you have acted to your credit.

Christ speaks of credit: either accruing to or denied of people based on their actions. He says things like this: “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount” (Luke 6:34). The plain implication is that there is credit for lending to people who cannot pay you back, when you do it in faith in God. Jesus calls it a “reward,” which is a synonym for credit: “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great …” (verse 35).

“What credit is it to someone if he is kind, patient, self-controlled, and not rude 95 percent of the time, if it is easy to be kind, patient, self-controlled, and not rude 95 percent of the time?”

The Apostle Paul likewise speaks of credit, telling the Philippians they will get credit from God for their willingness to help him materially on his missionary journeys: “Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit” (Philippians 4:17). This must have been very encouraging to those Philippians. It’s nice to accrue credit. Crowns will be given out based on how we did down here (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Back to the house with the four Christian adults in it. What would you say to the believer who tells you, “I was gracious all day—except that one time at 2 o’clock when someone really pushed my buttons and I lost it”? In other words, that person is telling you he was gracious all day except when it would have required at least some effort to be gracious. Big deal. As an inmate I heard of once said, “If y’ain’t cool all the time, y’ain’t cool.”

“If y’ain’t cool all the time, y’ain’t cool” is good theology. It succinctly conveys the spiritual reality that coolness is tested, and found to be either present or absent in those fleeting momentary crucibles of annoyance. If you ain’t cool then (kind, patient, self-controlled, not rude), your 95 percent niceness was merely a veneer.

God says to live “as obedient children” (1 Peter 1:14). If we really do that and die to self in those moments that take dying, it’s to our credit. If we do not, we may deceive ourselves.

Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine. Her commentary has been compiled into three books including Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me. Andrée resides in Philadelphia, Penn.

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  • M Cleere
    Posted: Tue, 06/21/2016 12:55 pm

    No, as you say, 95% is surely not good enough, but nothing we EVER do, EVER think, or EVER feel is or will be, in and of itself "good enough". Only one man ever lived a life that was "good enough", and it's to Him we look, even as we continually and inevitably fail in this life.

    Christ came to save sinners, and such are we all this side of heaven. Yes, we are called to ALWAYS be kind, always be patient, always be long suffering... but we can't be – we're simply incapable of achieving -- of being that very thing we are commanded by God to be, and it is precisely because of this inherent inability to continually and at ALL times display the Christlike character demanded of us that He came and  He died and He rose again. 

  •  Greg Mangrum's picture
    Greg Mangrum
    Posted: Tue, 06/21/2016 02:03 pm

    M. Cleere-

    You are correct in saying that we are not perfect. You are also correct in saying that the NT instructs us to be Christlike always. But, you say we can't. Have "we" actually ever tried? His grace is sufficient (in all things, not just when we mess up or need help).


  • Charlw
    Posted: Tue, 06/21/2016 04:38 pm

    But what if one is cool 95% of the time when he is IN the crucible of annoyance? How would we describe him?

  •  bwsmith's picture
    Posted: Wed, 06/22/2016 08:43 am

    We can undo so much when we let loose -- but who among us is capable of ever being 100%? Your reminder is that we always have a choice . . .  Thank God for GRACE! confession and repentance -- 

  •  nevertheless's picture
    Posted: Thu, 07/07/2016 09:40 am

    Snoopy said: "When you're cool the sun is always shining", God knew we wouldn't be cool all the time; that's why he sent his son to be cool in our place. lol