He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.
Anger is the negative emotion we feel when our expectations are not met. Those unmet expectations may range from a traffic light not changing quickly enough to our friends not giving us the attention that we feel we deserve. Such unresolved anger is not only dangerous to our spiritual lives and relationships, but it can also be deadly.
The relationship between hostility and an imbalance in the endocrine system of our bodies is well documented. Anger decreases the lymphocytes in our bodies, which results in decreased antibodies to ward off infectious diseases. That is one of the reasons that the book of Proverbs says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (16:32).
In the New Testament, James commands us to be “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19). The Greek word used for anger is “orge,” which refers to smoldering, persistent anger. James makes it clear that such anger is not of God: “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (1:20).
Is anger always wrong? Not necessarily. There is such a thing as righteous anger. In Matthew 21:12-16, Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple because He had jealous anger for the holiness of God and God’s institutions. But most of the time when we get angry, let’s be honest: it is not righteous anger. Our anger is not because we are concerned about the things of God; it is because we are upset that our rights were violated. So we lose control and fly into a temper fit, or we choose to keep dwelling on whatever it was that made us angry until our anger poisons our thoughts and behavior toward somebody.
Anger is like a fever–it is usually an indication that something else is wrong, either in our attitudes or our relationships. Solomon observed, “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression” (Proverbs 19:11). The Apostle Paul put it this way: “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:26-27). In other words, deal with your anger before it destroys you.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choose Your Attitudes, Change Your Life” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 1992.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.