Slow To Anger

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I found it, that dreaded puddle on the floor near the freezer in the basement. The door left open by mistake with the yellow sign on the front stating “don’t forget to close the door”…and I lost it, screaming out in frustration:

“WHO LEFT OPEN THE FREEZER!?
WHO WAS IT?
EVERYTHING IS RUINED? ALL OF IT…ALL THE FOOD! EVERYTHING!
GIVE ME A BREAK! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? WHY?”

And the rant continued…until I scared the neighbors and everyone in the house. Looking back I acted so silly that it’s comical now, but it showed my heart at the time. I railed and rumbled like a mighty giant, but it was really immature and unhelpful. I couldn’t undo the mess, I couldn’t change the thawed food, and now I had to repair the damage done to my children and wife.

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (Proverbs 16:32 ESV). 

The Hebrew word for slow in this passage is arek, which means long or long suffering, patient, slow to anger. The Hebrew word for anger is aph, which means a nostril, nose, face, anger.  

Can you envision my explosion with nostrils flaring, angry faced screaming above?

But slow is better, so much better that the passage says it’s better than the mighty. The Hebrew word for better is towb, which means beautiful. Can anger be beautiful? Yes, if it’s slow anger.

The other meanings behind that word are: beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, fair word, be in favor. Thus, it’s a good thing to be slow to anger so much so that it’s better than a mighty warrior who takes a city. 

So, how is it possible to be slow to anger? The second half of the verse explains it, by ruling our spirit or temper. Ruling is the word mashal, which means to have dominion, reign, bear, cause to, have ruling have power. 

Matthew Henry’s commentary on v32 states:

To overcome our own passions, requires more steady management, than obtaining victory over an enemy.

So how is this possible? It’s God working in and through us producing the fruit of the Spirit who gives self-control. God knows the lack of self-control is one of our greatest foes. It’s more difficult than taking a well fortified city. God is slow to anger, and by His grace we can be slow to anger too.

So how do we apply this in our lives?

  • Self-control is slow, but anger is aggressive. Thus, we should do the reverse of aggressive anger, we should aggressively and actively pursue self-control.
  • How do we actively pursue self-control? Through God’s word, through prayer, through accountability, and by walking in faith despite our circumstances, by repenting when we lose it – like my rant above, and by being quick to seek forgiveness of others when we’ve lashed out in anger.

What about you?

  1. How has your life exemplified self-control in the midst of angry circumstances in the past?
  2. What are some ways you can be held accountable to this principle?
  3. How can you work to see this principle accepted and lived out by others?
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Giving Like A Child

wrapping-paper-1874672_1920The Bible teaches us that God owns everything and if that’s true we need to move away from an ownership mentality and embrace a stewardship mentality. Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven, and the heaven of the heavens, and the earth with all that is in it (Deuteronomy 10:14).

What about you? Is it my car, my home, my money, or is everything His?

Let’s go to David’s prayer after the people gave a freewill offering for building the Temple. This is great prayer…

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours.

Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.

But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own (1 Chronicles 29:11-16).

God owns everything, and when we give, we’re giving what he has given us. We need to move away from an ownership mentality and embrace a stewardship mentality.

Let me give you an illustration that I think parents and children can both relate to. Parents, at some point in your life your child is most likely going to ask you for money in order to buy you a gift. It’s a gift you probably don’t need and may not necessarily want, but you give them the money and allow them to be stewards of it.

Why?

Because it’s not really about the amount of money or the gift is it? It’s about love, it’s a transaction of love between the parent and the child, and then the child to the parent, where the transaction stirs their hearts towards one another.

That’s what our giving to God should be like! We freely give because our hearts are stirred toward our Abba Father and His heart is stirred toward us.

So, How should we give?

2 Corinthians 9:7 – Each one must give as he has decided in his heart (it’s a transaction of love), not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver…[Like a parent loves a gift from a child].

 

 

Trusting God at 40,000 Feet

 

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It’s Labor Day afternoon, I’m on a return flight with my wife by my side; I have the window seat with a glorious view of puffy, cotton ball clouds dotting the horizon – as far as I can see. A young girl with blonde braided hair and a pink shirt, age 11, sits by my wife in the aisle seat. She has an iPhone and earbuds in. She’s flying alone, but not for the first time. Her pink shirt reminds me of my own sixteen year old daughter who we left this morning at a full-time ballet school in the northeast. It was a sad, but sweet goodbye, as my emotions hit turbulence with the fasten seat belt sign on.

It’s time to remember a familiar truth – A truth all Christians struggle to live out in practice. It’s time to trust the Lord with all my heart and to not lean on my own understanding. A time to acknowledge my dependence on Him with what I can and can’t see. It’s time to turn away from evil thoughts, the fear of man, and what could go wrong. This is not only truth fit for this situation, it’s also truth to live by throughout life.

With this fresh reminder, I confess my need to leave my teenage daughter in His care and pray for her two roommates whom we met for the first time. One from Japan, eighteen, shy, barely speaks English, who cried when hugged and told she would be helped with the transition by her new friends. The other roommate, seventeen, from New Orleans, has a Mormon background, and is sweet, polite, and bubbly. I still see the image of the three of them hugging as my wife and I left for the airport to head back to Georgia.

The girl on the plane interrupts my thoughts. She wants a picture of the clouds. I try to lean back so she can take a good shot from the aisle seat, her blue eyes smiling as she chews a piece of gum. She’s going to visit her mom who recently moved to South Carolina.

In the light of Proverbs 3:5-7, I know I can trust an All-Wise, Good and Sovereign God, while praying for three ballerinas and a girl from a broken home as I travel back to a house where my sixteen year old leaves behind a pink – missing her – room.

Behind the lines

I wrote the above for Fighter Verses – an extension of the Ministry of Children Desiring God. They asked me to write a post for them on Proverbs 3:5-7 many weeks before and it all came together in God’s Providence on a Labor Day plane ride.

  1. What circumstances are you in that you need to surrender and trust Him with?
  2. Are you depending on Him, or are you determined to make it in your own wisdom?
  3. Who has the Lord directed your way recently that you can love, serve, and point to Him?

 

 

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