(April 24) Are You Slow to Anger? -- a meditation on Proverbs 19:11
"Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense."
I do not generally find myself being angry too often. I try, by God's grace, to handle frustrations and disappointments calmly. I will admit, sometimes I succeed, and other times I fail. It is my aim, however, to try not to let small issues take root in my heart and grow into anger.
However...there are a couple of things that I find tend to move me to anger quickly. One of them (thankfully, not a problem anymore) involved my sons and shopping carts. When my boys were little, they loved to push the shopping cart at Wal Mart. Fair enough! I didn't get angry when they asked for toys in the toy aisle. I did not get upset when they asked for every variety of snacks and food in the grocery section. But, on occasion, I would walk in front of whichever of my sons was steering the cart (most of you know what is coming, don't you?!). And, every so often they would push the cart, out of nowhere, at a faster pace than we had been walking. The result is one of the worst feelings known to this world. The shopping cart would be thrust into the back of my leg. How many times did I feel the sensation of a shopping cart ramming into my Achilles tendon? Now THAT would make me angry. Immediately!
Another frustration that tends to get under my skin is when I am at the gym, and someone sits on a piece of equipment I want to use, and they just play on their phone!!! I don't mind waiting to use the bench press or leg press if someone is actually USING it. It does drive me crazy, though, when someone treats a machine in the gym like it's a living room recliner and they sit there and text or check social media while others are wanting to use it.
My guess is you have your "shopping cart" issues as well. There are things that can frustrate us and quickly move us to anger.
Scripture reminds us that we should be slow to anger (Proverbs 19:11). We do not usually think well when we are angry. We do not think of the well-being of others when our temper flares. And we certainly don't think about reflecting the grace of God when we are filled with fury.
The Bible states that it makes good sense to be slow to anger. Is there a proper time to be angry? Of course. Anger is not necessarily a sin. We know this because Scripture teaches in the Old and New Testament that we must be careful to not sin in our anger (Psalm 4:4, Ephesians 4:26). So, it is possible to be angry at the time, in the right way, at the right circumstance. My experience, though, is that I most often get angry when it would be better for me to do what Proverbs 19:11 says and overlook an offense.
Maybe someone really did say something unkind. I can choose to overlook the offense. Maybe someone really did do something inconsiderate. I can choose to overlook the offense.
The next verse in Proverbs 19 says, "A king's wrath is like the growling of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass." I don't know about you, but I don't want to go through life acting like a growling lion. I don't like how I feel when I am angry. I don't like the way I think when I am angry. I certainly don't like the things I tend to think when I am angry. I would rather be a blessing ("like dew on the grass") than be a beast ("like the growling of a lion").
So, my encouragement to you today is that when something happens that threatens to raise your blood pressure, stop! Just stop for a moment. Consider that you could respond (internally or externally) in a way that is like a growling lion. Or...you could respond (internally and externally) like dew on the grass. You could be ruthless or refreshing. You could be irate or irenic. You could be foolish or act according to good sense. Let's choose to overlook the offense.
Now, having said all this, I have likely guaranteed that this evening someone will sit on the piece of gym equipment I need while they check their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and who knows what else. If that happens, I may just look for a shopping cart and............