Slow to anger.
We all have fuses. You know, the metaphor that defines our response to provocation. My personal strength array and personality give me a relatively short fuse. Meaning it doesn't take much for my temperature to rise. Being low on deliberative and analytical strengths gives me a quick ignition point. And, that's troubling in just about every life venue. Like just about every other aspect of this human nature, being slow to anger requires continuing spiritual discipline for me. When my embers are smoldering and need only a spark to kindle them it means that my spiritual fruit isn't producing. You see, this slow to anger thing is really about what kind of fruit is growing on my tree.
Well, yes, I've learned to count to ten, take a few deep breaths, step back from harsh moments, slow down, think happy thoughts, avoid triggers, take a hike, and all the other one minute anger management techniques. They're the momentary solutions that may rescue us from a brawl. Being slow to anger, however, isn't really a circumstantial event, as escape from a hazardous moment. Being slow to anger is a life-style adjustment that is part and parcel of who we are all the time. In this Christian worldview, it involves the produce of this spiritual life, what Scripture refers to as the fruit of the Spirit. After explaining the works of our human nature, including fits of anger, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Galatia about this fruit---
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5: 22-23, ESV
These are the virtues and qualities that should grow naturally in the Christian life. A couple of them apply directly to the discipline of being slow to anger: peace, patience, and self-control to be more specific. Those spiritual character traits help to dampen that short fuse and keep those anger impulses from igniting at every curve in the road. Being slow to anger is one of their correctives and is a personal goal in every life circumstance. It's because Scripture speaks volumes about it---
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Psalm 103:8, 145: 8, ESV
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper
Proverbs 14: 29, ESV
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
Proverbs 15: 18, ESV
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he
who takes a city. Proverbs 16: 31, ESV
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19: 11, 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
Right now our nation is is experiencing critical moments of anger. Living under the restrictions of Covid 19 has introduced levels of uncertainty and endurance most of us have never experienced. Our past has reminded us of societal evils and cultural disconnects that have distanced our population even more than usual. The blame game is one we're playing with abandon. Racial tensions, political differences, clashing opinions of every conceivable thought have surfaced in cities and communities around the nation. And, most of us are not slow to anger. We're poised to pounce.
Many believers are praying for a spiritual revival. Me too. Even more, I'm praying that those of us with this Christian worldview will grow some spiritual fruit so we will have the virtue of being slow to anger. Me up front.