Have You Gotten Angry Yet?
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11, ESV)
It’s been 3 weeks since Governor Pritzker sent most of us to our rooms. Authorities like the governor are not our parents, but when they rule in accord with the created and revealed order (even despite themselves), the Bible says they are “God’s servants for [our] good” (v. 4). So, we obey as an act of trust in the authorities our heavenly Father has appointed and faith that He will work through them.
It’s one thing to be sent to your room; it’s quite another to be locked in there with other people. No matter how mature you are in Christ, close confinement is enough to try even the noblest saint’s patience—especially if your quarantine-mates happen to be small children. Suffice it to say my hair is falling out an alarming rate…
Friends, anger is crouching at many of our doors (it’s banging on mine), and its desire is against us.
Recently, I’ve been trying to meditate on and teach my kids the wisdom reflected in Proverbs 19:11. The Sage tells us that “good sense” makes one slow to anger. It’s not holiness or a desire to avoid sin that counsels us to cool our jets. Of course, we shouldn’t sin in/with our anger (Eph 4:26), but this proverb has practical wisdom in its sights.
Anger is counter-productive:
- We think it’ll help our situation, but the only thing it’ll do is cause pain.
- We think it’ll make us feel better, but it’ll just make us feel worse.
- We think it’ll “fix” the other person, but it’ll only break us both apart.
The antidote to our anger, as far as the proverb is concerned, is a kind of sanctified ignorance. It’s not that we turn a blind eye to all wrong-doing, but we choose to overlook personal offenses (the stolen toy, the rude face, the insensitive word, the improperly loaded dishwasher) rather than vent our wrath against them. Instead of raging against every peccadillo, we should look beyond them for the sake of peace, harmony, and relational wellbeing.
Whether you’re 4 years old or you’re 40, this is the way of wisdom.
Overlooking an offense is not just a matter of eating humble pie. The Sage calls it our glory. I don’t know about you, but I am at my angriest when someone’s robbed me of my “rightful” glory. Insult my pride, show me disrespect, or get in my way, and my flesh will want nothing more than to reclaim that glory through a harsh word or a dirty look. But the proverb tells us glory comes not by way of indignation but abdication. I give up my “right” to be offended, knowing that forgiveness and forbearance are far more glorious than a temper tantrum.
This is a hard saying, but the Wisdom of God became incarnate (1 Cor 1:24, 30) and suffered the offense of the cross (Gal 5:11) to show us what it looks like to trade sacrifice for anger, forgiveness for retribution. While it is true that God has not “overlooked” sin (cf. Rom 1:18)—that would compromise His holiness, justice, and truth—it is also true that the Son chose to bear that offense for us. In Him, we see the embodiment of good sense and the glory of forbearance.
These are challenging times for us all. My heart is with the parents of young children, especially, but I trust we all know what it feels like to grate on one another’s nerves—even without the pressure cooker that is COVID-induced social distancing. My desire for you (and me) this week is that the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior would compel us to slow our roll to anger. By His Spirit, may we find the patience to overlook the offenses of others and join Him in the glory of sacrificial restraint.
This isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s plain good sense.
I’m praying that God would provide us all the supernatural resources we need to love one another well during this season… and for enough sunshine to get the kids out of the house for a couple of hours.
Your Brother in Christ,