patience and self-control instead of anger

Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city.

There is nothing easier unfortunately than flying off the handle over something one doesn’t like. There are some who are not inclined that way, but I would venture to say the vast majority of us human beings indeed are. Even if it shows up in different ways, for some withdrawal and silence.

Is anger always a bad thing? That is an interesting, controversial point. In the case of God it never is, since God always has complete self-control along with wisdom and above all love. In the case of humans, for the most part it is hard for anger not to become sin, if it isn’t sin at the outset. There is what is called righteous anger which we see at times in Jesus. As one who never sinned, Jesus had complete self-control at all times, though what that looks like or means can be different, depending. But we sin and in fact are easily ensnared into sin. We don’t have perfect self-control, except only insofar as love as a fruit of the Spirit permeates our lives. But there surely is some place for righteous anger out of love. But we have to submit that issue into the Lord’s hands, knowing that true and full justice will come only through him. Even while we pray and seek for a measure of that now. Remembering all the while how justice has been met uniquely in the cross of Jesus.

The proverb makes a vitally important point. Patience and self-control are allies. We do well when we are tempted to anger to step back. To hold our tongues, first of all. To pray. And wait. The problem with much of our anger is that it is not well placed in terms of knowledge. We are angry over what we think we know. Which falls short of what is actually true. And we need to exercise mercy. All the more since we need mercy on a regular basis ourselves. It is certainly the case that we all let each other down. And to forgive in not only divine, but mandated on us humans. As God has forgiven us, we are to forgive each other. As well as receive forgiveness.

And so the next time anger wants to rear its ugly head and strike, we should step back and consider. Is this righteous anger, or not? Do we really know? Even if it is, what else needs to be either in the mix, or following? The fruit of the Spirit includes patience and self-control. We need the work of that Spirit to help us through the bumps and bruises of life. Trusting in God’s good will in Jesus to in the end and even now trump all.