Read: Proverbs 12:16
Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly; the prudent quietly shrug off insults.
Experienced a little road-rage lately? What do you do when some jerk cuts you off in traffic, then has the audacity to make an obscene gesture at you…like it was your fault for obeying the speed limit? How about when a co-worker makes a critical comment about an idea you shared or when your spouse puts you down in front of others, or when one of your kids makes fun of the way you dress? How do you react?
Is your immediate reaction to retaliate? Or does the affront roll off you like water off a duck’s back? Here’s what Solomon says in Proverbs 12:16,
“A fool shows his annoyance at once,
but a prudent man overlooks an insult.”
We live in an age where we’re taught to stand up for our rights, defend ourselves, respond tit for tat, not let anyone intimidate us. In our culture, not to respond is taken as a sign of weakness. But is it weakness, or wisdom, to overlook an insult? Here are some other thoughts Solomon had on the subject:
“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” ~Proverbs 16:32
“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” ~Proverbs 29:11
“It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” ~Proverbs 20:3
If it is your habit to react and retaliate to a slight or an irritation, here are some steps you can take to gain control and begin to operate as a person of prudence in this area:
The first step is to take responsibility for your reaction. If you are ever going to control your temper and process the anger in a way that pleases God, you’ve got to come to a once and for all understanding that you have a choice in how you respond. You are response–able.
The second step is to get smart about your anger. In other words, think your anger through. The biggest enemy to uncontrolled, destructive anger is your ability to be rational, because destructive anger is stupid. Psalm 4:4 says, “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.”
The third step is to realize that most of what you get angry over just doesn’t matter. So evaluate what’s upsetting you by asking yourself if it’s really worth getting steamed up over. Robert Eliot, professor at the University of Nebraska said,
“Rule number one is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it is all small stuff.”
The final step in the process is to determine to use your God-given anger capacity for positive growth in you and in your world. Romans 8:28 says, “God works all things for our good.” That means even the stuff that makes you mad. Romans 8:29 reminds us that the ultimate good that God works in our lives is to make us more like Jesus.
So you can let stuff make you hot under the collar
or holy in your character.
God can take any and every situation that tempts you to react in anger and turn it for your good and his glory. Try it; you’ll see!
“Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.” ~Benjamin Franklin
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
This week, memorize and meditate on Psalm 4:4.