Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s Organic Milk Chocolate with Almonds
Today’s Passage: Proverbs 16:32
Ugh. What hit me? What day is it? …Saturday?! I’ve got a post to write! I’ve got two posts to write! No, no, let’s take this one step at a time. The first thing to do is to write Thursday’s post, and then we’ll see where we’re at. Here we go.
So, what verse does God’s Little Instruction Book have for us today? It’s none other than Proverbs 16:32, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” And this is one verse where taking a bird’s-eye view of its context will not lend us any particular insight into its meaning. There do exist passages in Proverbs which are not simply successions of maxims and wise sayings, but chapter 16 is not one of them.
So we’re going to pull back even further to broaden our perspective. If Proverbs 16 constitutes the bird’s-eye view, then it’s time to consider the scope of the whole Bible and take in the scene from satellite. Or, to put it another way, we’re going to use Proverbs 16:32 as our vantage point, get out our telescope, and take a look at some similar passages. Look, there are a lot of metaphors you could use. If none of the ones I’ve used are to your liking, feel free to make your own.
The name of the game here is self-control, particularly when tempers run high, and few love that game more than James. You may remember his admonition, “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19), which he follows with the less-broadly-known explanation, “for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (1:20). That’s why it’s better to be slow to anger than to have a warrior’s strength, as Proverbs says. When you refrain from hasty and vengeful actions, you’re poised to ally yourself with the omnipotent Creator of the universe, who is stronger than any of his creations. But when you go about your business with the emotional safety off, ready to flip out on anyone in your way, you’re not poised to ally yourself with anyone.
But there’s another reason why being slow to anger positions you favorably with God, and it’s that God himself is slow to anger. Long before the Bible identifies any human as slow to anger, it describes God time and time again as “slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness” (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Nehemiah 9:17, and more). When we keep our anger on a short leash, when we don’t allow it to lead us but rather lead it, we emulate the character of God himself.
There is a time and a place for righteous anger. I’m reminded of Jesus Christ tearing through the temple with a whip (Matthew 21:12-13), driving out the merchants and money-changers. But Jesus didn’t go off half-cocked; for thirty-and-change years he’d been going to the Jerusalem temple on important religious occasions, and he chose to act at the proper time. He wasn’t flipping out, he wasn’t losing his cool, and that made his forceful indictment of his countrymen’s greed (based on Jeremiah 7:11) all the more potent.
That’s one post. Will I manage to get a second one out before Monday? Tomorrow, you and I both will find out!