Anger: Keeping Things in Perspective

Those with good sense are slow to anger,
and it is their glory to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 19:11

We get angry over a lot of things. To be honest, Americans as a society are pretty angry. Perhaps it stems from our idea of “rights.” We believe (and expect) that certain things are due us, that our lives should include the ability to choose and have and do (sometimes even without consequence). When those expectations are denied, we get angry.

It’s also a form of control. Here in America (and in other countries), we have come to believe that we control our own destiny. We choose the vocation or profession or job we will have. We choose where to live, who to marry, how many children we will have (aborting the rest). We choose when we will work and when we will play (and we play a lot!). So when we are denied these things, we get angry.

We often couch our anger in morality, claiming that this or that is unfair or wrong. But if we are honest, many times our protests cover our fear. We cannot control the situation so anger is better than . . . trust. You see, God is in control. All the time, in all things, through all people. And while we all have free will, ultimately His plans will come to effect.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NRSV

This verse doesn’t say that God will only work out the good things or the things we control or when we are obedient (as opposed to sinning). It says that He will work out all things. And often, He works them out with Heaven in mind. That means the story doesn’t end here, on earth, but rather ends There, with Him. Hebrews 11:39-40a tell us that

yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better.”

They didn’t receive what was promised. In other words, the “they lived happily ever after” didn’t happen in this life. Why? Because God promised something better: Heaven.

The Lord Jesus taught us that we are to:

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NRSV

The road is hard that leads to life. That’s pretty clear. If we continue to look for the easy way, we may miss the way altogether.

So what does all this have to do with being slow to anger, to look over an offense? Well, the fact is that if God is working everything out for our God and if the “something better” He wants to provide isn’t here on earth, then those two old rules apply:

    1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
    2. Everything is small stuff.

In other words, there’s no point in getting angry or afraid. There’s no point in holding onto resentment or wanting to get revenge. There’s no point even in trying to control. Rather we should be putting our efforts into living lives that glorify God through the fruit of the Spirit. We need to be focusing on being kind, being patience, being self-controlled, being gentle, being generous . . . and let God take care of everything else.