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
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20 ESV
There’s a story about a little tailor who foolishly let a demon out of a bottle. The demon was able to give the tailor any wish he wanted. First the tailor wanted a new suit of clothes, and then more and more things. He eventually got the demon to get him a princess for a wife by giving her father the king a ruby goblet filled with gold that would keep filling itself with gold after it was emptied. The demon built an incredible palace for the tailor and the princess. Nothing was too hard for the demon to do. But when the tailor wanted to get rid of the demon, he knew the only way to do it was to find an impossible job. The princess gave the tailor one of her curly hairs, and the tailor told the demon to straighten the hair. The demon tried and tried, but he couldn’t straighten the princess’s hair. As strong and powerful as he was, he couldn’t do that one little thing!
Proverbs talks about another thing that seems very little, but is much harder than being a strong warrior who is able to conquer a city. Compared to mighty acts of power and glory, being able to control your temper seems to be a very small thing, but it’s something many people have a very hard time doing. People can lift weights and work out in the gym to become more strong and powerful, but all the muscle building and strength training in the world can’t help you control your temper!
The Bible says that the anger of a person doesn’t work for God’s righteousness. God asks his people to be slow to anger, to control their tempers, and to learn to listen to others before speaking. This is very hard to do, and no one can do it perfectly. God sent Jesus to take our sins of anger to the cross with him, and Jesus paid for our sins there. Jesus was insulted and beaten and abused, but he didn’t pay anyone back for hurting him. He stayed calm and let the people put him on the cross so he could take our sins on himself, and he even asked his heavenly Father to forgive the soldiers who killed him. Jesus forgives our sins every day, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us learn to better keep our tempers and let God’s purposes work through us.
Dear Jesus, please forgive us for our sins of anger and help us to be more like you. Amen.
Pyle, Howard “Woman’s Wit” Twilight Land New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1894.