Proverbs 19:11 (ESV) “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Sometimes it feels like “good sense” to get angry. My anger is “justified” and “reasonable” and “appropriate.” This Proverb would caution us (me) to be a bit less hasty in coming to that conclusion. Note that the proverb doesn’t end with “be slow to anger.” The alternative is to actually recognize the offense but determine that it can be overlooked. If you have an overlook mentality, you have a view from above. God doesn’t react immediately to every offense I commit. While He doesn’t ignore it, he doesn’t treat me the way I deserve.
Anger can crop up at the blink of an eye. Yesterday I was at an intersection waiting for the light to turn green. When it did, several cars in front of me moved forward, but the one directly in front of me did not. The driver, a man, was spending time on his phone. Perhaps it was an emergency call, but I assumed immediately that he was texting or doing some other frivolous activity that could be done at another time. I gave him a good beep to encourage him to move forward. He did, but ever so slowly. That was all it took to get angry.
Let’s just say angry drivers are no better drivers than texting drivers. I didn’t create an accident and didn’t hurt anyone, but I realized very quickly that I wasn’t using good sense and determined to drive the way a patient driver should drive. We all face these momentary lapses of good sense. I’m convinced that most of my anger is unjustifiable. I get angry because of selfishness, pride or because others do something that is “illegal.” The reality is that quick anger often results in attitudes, words and behaviors that are not, in God’s universe, legal. Something is legal if it is permitted by law.
Perhaps this quote will help: “Disordered loves, or ‘inordinate affections,’ as Augustine called them, are part of the age-old problem of taking good things and making them ultimate. It’s the slippery terrain that goes from really loving our children to finding our identity in them, to thinking that our lives are pointless without the prosperity of our posterity. It’s that insidious shift that turns blessings into idols. And when our loves get disordered, our anger goes haywire.” – Jonathan Parnell
In my case, the slippery slope was that it is good to go when the light is green according to the law, but you only have one second to move. If you don’t press on the accelerator, I immediately assume you are a poor driver who is wasting my time. I had more concern for five of my seconds than the lives of others. That is, indeed, slippery terrain. Thankfully, God forgives sin when I acknowledge it and repent.
I am thankful that God does more than “overlook” or ignore my innumerable sins. He had a plan and took action at Christmas to send his One and Only Son to save me with a forgiveness that covers my sin.
LINK: What Our Anger Tells Us