“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” Proverbs 16:32
There are many proverbs that deal with anger and grudges. That’s because it is so easy to become angry and/or to hold a grudge. Someone said, “If you have a short temper you had better develop a long fuse.” Or, like the mother whale warned her offspring, “When you are spouting, you are most likely to be harpooned.”
The above scripture calls the one who is slow to anger mightier than a warrior. But how does one learn how to rule his own spirit rather than explode in outbursts of anger and rage? First, look back at what a quick temper and angry words cost you in the past. How hard it is to heal a wound we have caused with our tongues. Not only is it difficult to regain the confidence of an offended brother, but anger can even get us killed, as proven by the terrible statistics on “road rage.”
Second, learn to walk away from a person or problem until you know that the heat of the moment has subsided. Repeat inwardly a memorized scripture such as “be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19) and fire up a quick prayer: “Holy Spirit, rule over my spirit. Cause me to react like Jesus would.”
Third, learn the people and places that tempt you to “lose it” and avoid them. If it’s someone you live with who stokes your furnace, ask the Lord to bring a breaking – not of the other person – but of you. Such brokenness will not only put our spirits under the rule of the Holy Spirit, but bring about His intervention in circumstances beyond our human capacity.
My prayer: “My Father, the only way I can truly rule my own spirit is to surrender myself to the absolute rule of Your Holy Spirit. Keep me emptied of self and full of You.”