“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32).
Chuck Norris once said, “Men are like steel. When they lose their temper, they lose their worth”. As the opening verse above indicates, much is said in the book of Proverbs regarding the need for a person to be able to keep their temper under control. In fact, the ability to “rule” one’s spirit is esteemed of greater value than of an army leader’s ability to capture an entire city (Proverbs 16:32)!
The person who is “quick tempered” is going to constantly be engaged in needless strife with others: “An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression” (Proverbs 29:22). He “abounds” in committing many different types of transgressions. In fact, He acts so foolishly that people don’t enjoy being around him: “A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of wicked intentions is hated” (Proverbs 14:17). His failure to keep his temper under control makes him an easy prey for Satan’s attacks (1 Peter 5:8). Satan knows his weaknesses and easily exploits him: “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).
In fact, we are encouraged to avoid those who cannot keep their temper under control: “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul” (Proverbs 22:24-25). In keeping company with the quick-tempered man, we can find ourselves beginning to emulate him and find ourselves in fights with others: “A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows” (Proverbs 18:6). Such a person will get in trouble again and again because of their failure to control their temper. “A man of great wrath will suffer punishment; for if you rescue him, you will have to do it again” (Proverbs 19:19).
Do you struggle with keeping your temper under control? Proverbs is filled with wisdom we can glean to learn how to better “rule” over our spirits. First, we need to determine to exercise self-control and work on being “slow” to want to get angry: “He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29). Solomon adds, “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention” (Proverbs 15:18). Second, we need to use discretion and choose what things we should get angry over and what things we should simply overlook: “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression” (Proverbs 19:11). Discretion is the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information. It is the freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation. All because something bad happens to me or someone I love, doesn’t mean I have to choose to get angry over it. I can choose to simply overlook it, let the matter go, and give it over to God. God still gives me the power to choose the path of glory and “overlook” the transgression!
Have you ever known people who seem to angry over everything? “Ruling” one’s spirit is no easy task. I have struggled with this my whole life and it is a constant battle. However, I know that Christ can strengthen me to do this (Philippians 4:13). Today, I will strive to be slow to get angry and work on reigning in my temper that I may glorify God. I will work on choosing to “overlook” many of the transgressions committed against me as God has chosen to “overlook” my sin by forgiving me through the precious blood of His Son (Matthew 6:14-15; John 3:16).
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).