Be Slow to Anger (Proverbs 19:11)
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. —Proverbs 19:11
These verses are so beautiful to me, because they go beyond just good sense. Being slow to anger reflects the very character of God. Our God is slow to anger (Psalm 103:8). This attitude, the “good sense” of being slow to anger, of overlooking offense is completely counter-cultural.
We live in a society where a rush to anger is commonplace, even acceptable. Minor irritations bring about an immediate response of anger. When we as Christians rush to anger, we are not being salt and light, we are simply reflecting the culture. But if we live lives marked by a patient overlooking of offenses, we will look drastically different than the world and the light of the gospel will shine through us.
What causes you to be angry? Is it when someone cuts you off in traffic? Is it when you’ve been wronged or your rights are being infringed on? What about the actions of your family, friends, co-workers? Often the people closest to us can so easily anger and offend us. What about when someone dismisses your faith, or makes a trite comment?
Do you rush to anger?
Please hear what this verse is saying, it isn’t saying “never be angry” or “all anger is sinful,” but be slow to anger. God is calling us to surrender the impulse to rush to anger. He has given us the power to approach anger slowly and carefully, prayerfully considering if we even need to be angry.
When we rush to anger, foolishness follows. When we rush to anger, sinful action will likely be on display. Unfortunately, it is easy to rush to anger and so much more difficult to be slow to anger. God promises to teach us this discipline, to conform us to Christ, if we will submit to Him in the hard work.
I have three small children, so I spend a lot of time with other parents talking about our kids. We talk about the values we hope to instill. And one value comes up time and time again: teaching our children to stand up for themselves—to fight for their rights. I often hear Christian parents telling me that it is important that kids stand up for themselves. And I agree on some levels.
But do we have the same concern that our children would be slow to anger? Do we want to train them to overlook an offense? Do we ask them to seek peace with patience and loving kindness, even when it is hard? Do we teach them that following Jesus often means the harder, more loving, more Christ-like path of being slow to anger?
Training our kids to be slow to anger means cultivating that attitude in our own lives. I suspect we focus on teaching our kids to fight for their rights because it comes easily for us as adults. We don’t even need to work at it. They see it in us when we’re driving, when we’re talking about our day at work, they even see it when we are correcting and disciplining them.
It takes work to point our kids to the importance of being slow to anger. We need to show them what being slow to anger looks like–and that will mean releasing offenses.
This attitude of being slow to anger, of overlooking offenses it’s not just wisdom for daily living, it’s part of living out the gospel daily. We can experience the “glory” of overlooking an offense because we serve a righteous Judge and we have a glorious Savior who did not treat us as our sins deserve. We can surrender our pride and seek God, who is slow to anger abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 103:8). As you commit Proverbs 19:11 to memory, prayerfully seek His strength, and the work of His Spirit, to empower you to reflect His character.
What does it look like to be slow to anger versus rushing to anger? Why do you think it is good sense to be slow to anger in your life?
Would you overlook certain offenses if you were slow to anger?
What are the things that cause you to rush to anger? How might a different response reflect the glory of the gospel to your friends, family, and coworkers?