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?

In The Flesh

sunrise-2624402_1920In the flesh with a tongue of stress,
Every weakness of the mind,
A harmful attitude needs suppressed,
Daunting tasks, no time, and tired.

In the flesh my emotions rule,
Stealing my assurance away,
Distant from what I know is true,
But Your Word has not changed.

Calm my soul, quiet my mind,
Give me peace on every side.

Renew a right spirit within me,
Fill me with Your joy divine,
For Your love does not grow weary,
It’s always patient and kind.

A broken spirit, humble hearts,
O God, You never despise,
Send self-control when stress starts,
Make me aware of foolish pride.

Bring me back to Your joy, O Lord,
Restore me so I can withstand,
The times my flesh wants to roar,
In the battle of life’s demands.

Love never ends, Love never ends,
Faith and hope abide.
Love never ends, Love never ends,
Faith and hope abide.

Behind the lines

It’s easy to become overwhelmed and stressed in a fast paced world. We must stay in the Word and let it penetrate our hearts and minds so we are consistently reminded, renewed, and strengthened by the promises of God and the hope we have in Christ.

Galatians 5:22 tells us “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”

Are you exhibiting love and the fruit of the Spirit, or are you exhibiting a different kind of fruit? I often fail “in the flesh” with those closest to me (my family), but I’m thankful for grace and forgiveness. I’m thankful that His love is perfectly patient and kind.

May we be quick to repent and quick to seek forgiveness of those we’ve harmed with our tongues and bad attitudes. May we strive for self-control and learn to love with a love that is patient and kind!

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV).

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