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 

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Proverbs 16:32

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

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Slow down – let the Spirit work (Proverbs 16:32)

| Nov 30, 2014

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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

As you reflect on this verse you’ll notice it is not an imperative to never be angry. Being slow to anger, does not mean being devoid of anger. There are countless things that should make us angry. God is true and just in his anger at sin, including murder, deceit, injustice, oppressing the weak, idol worship, hypocrisy, and seeking satisfaction in anything or anyone more than Him.

We also observe that this verse is not teaching us that delayed anger is virtuous in some way. Our anger is not merely an issue of timing. The question is not whether we should be angry or when we should be angry, but rather how we will we respond when the fiery darts of the devil land on the Christian’s redeemed, yet sinful heart.

A slow response gives us precious space–space for levelheaded thinking, context and perspective. If we desire to please the Lord in our response, our ears need to be attentive to the Spirit and His work as He brings His Word to bear on the situation. This process takes time. If we add to that our need to pray for strength to respond in a manner that will please the Lord, we cannot afford to respond quickly.

James 1:19 tells us to “…be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger…” and he gives us the reason why, “the anger of man does not bring about God’s righteousness.”

A few years ago I worked on a project to develop a strategy that would guide Children Desiring God’s implementation and use of technology in the classroom. I spent a lot of time to prepare a presentation for our team. After the presentation two other team members were assigned the next steps. Not long after that, I received an email and it was clear they were taking a different approach. I responded in frustration and quickly wrote an email to justify my previously stated position. I ignored the Lord’s prompting to slow down. After later reading what I wrote I knew it was ungracious (“…gracious words are like a honeycomb…”–Prov 16:24). Did I slow down? No, instead I quickly heaped on some honey. Did they taste the sweetness? No, my fingers had already communicated quite effectively what was in my heart.

If I had implemented the wisdom of Proverbs 16:32, I would have been slow to anger and ruled my own spirit. Slowing down and submitting to the Spirit’s transforming work in my life would have changed my heart and then my response.

May you be mighty this week as you fight the fight of faith. Slow down and let the Spirit work in you, whether in moments of frustrations or of delirious joy!

__________________

Think about it:

  1. Have you responded in sinful anger to someone recently? Do you need to repent and ask for their forgiveness?
  2. What strategies can you employ to “slow down” your natural tendency to respond quickly?
  3. Read and reflect on the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).

Brian Eaton serves as Executive Director at Children Desiring God. He and his wife, Cindy, have five children.
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