Slow To Anger

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When you are younger, anger seems almost like a superpower. You cower in the presence of anger, and you see others do as well. Rage gets things done and brings people under your control. If you don’t like a potential decision by the Supreme Court that reverses Roe v. Wade, you yell, scream, and threaten in order to intimidate and make people fearful for their safety in order to try to manipulate the court. If you don’t like what someone does, you verbally or physically bring him into submission through rage. Anger is power.

As you grow older and wiser, you realize that anger of this sort is weakness. You don’t control your passions, they control you. These passions you can’t control are used by others to control you; they “push your buttons” and manipulate you. You are a slave to the unpleasant circumstances around you. Your bursts of sinful anger destroy everything precious to you, isolating you from everyone. Undisciplined anger, far from being a strength, is a display of weakness. Real power is the freedom that comes through patience.

The quick-tempered man in Proverbs is a fool. A fool is not intellectually disabled or a clownish figure. He is a moral deviant, a man given over to sin. Solomon instructs his son in wisdom, and one aspect of that wisdom is to discipline his God-given anger so that it becomes his servant and not his master. To take up the Adamic mission of bringing God’s wise order to the world, cool heads must prevail. In the end, cool heads, the patient, will prevail.

Quick-tempered men, hot-heads, act foolishly (14.17) and exalt folly (14.29); they bring disorder to the world by creating chaotic, tense, unhealthy situations instead of peace (15.18). Their anger isolates them, causing them to be hated by others (14.17), because they keep everyone at a distance through their anger, and, besides that, no sane person wants to be around this drama queen and live with this anxiety.

In his quick temper, the slave to anger loses perspective, not able to take in and deal with all the information because his hasty anger hyper-focuses his attention on one object, putting blinders on him. His limited vision means that he has no understanding or insight that allows him to put all the pieces of the situation together in a proper relationship because he refuses to see all the pieces. Consequently, the quick-tempered man cannot fulfill his God-given mission of dominion. His outbursts of anger are one of the works of the flesh that Paul says is characteristic of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5.19-21).

The wise son cultivates patience. He is slow to anger. He has the ability to calm and steel his mind through hope rooted in faith so that he can endure until he reaches his goal. Patience is not passivity or indifference. Patience is actively working on achieving the goal of defeating evil and building what is good by keeping its wits about him.

Patience is a discipline that must be cultivated. When we are young, our parents are responsible to discipline us in patience. As we grow older, patience must become a self-discipline. We must develop the ability to master our minds so as to direct our desires, will, emotions, and bodies to accomplish our mission. As with all self-discipline, the cultivation of patience requires pain, stressors that will challenge you mentally, physically, and emotionally. The way you respond to that pain will determine if it will make you stronger or break you. Because many stressors in our lives are outside of our control, the only power you have is your response. The stress reveals the weakness in your character. It doesn’t create it. If that weakness is to be strengthened, you must accept this stress as something of a frenemy; others may have plans to destroy you through this, but you know that God in his providence has brought this to be a servant to develop the strength of patience (cp. 1Cor 3.18-23). Your loving heavenly Father intends to make you a stronger son through this training. As you keep that in mind, knowing that all things do indeed work together for good to those who love God–faith–you develop the mental toughness and resiliency to endure, not being knocked off track through uncontrolled passions.

Whining, complaining, and moaning all the time about your situation reveals and cultivates weakness. You are not positively acting. You become the cowed victim that is a prisoner to others or your circumstances.

Patience is freedom. People and circumstances don’t enslave you by your own passions. You are free to be who God called you to be and accomplish what he put you here to do. Being patient, you are a true son of your heavenly Father who is slow to anger.

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