A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish man despises his mother. Proverbs 15:20
At first look this proverb might look a little prejudiced, giving dad all the gladness and mom the pleasure of being despised by the foolish son. Yet the proverb actually reveals some interesting things to us about children and how they affect both parents as they grow older and make choices according to the way that we have taught them.
One would think this proverb is about parents and their reward for rearing godly children, but it is not. It is rather a proverb dealing with children - and is a warning to them. First, we see that a wise son makes his father glad. When you see a son who is wise, he is going to be the delight of both parents, but especially his dad. He will speak glowingly of his boy, not because of all his achievements, but rather because he acts with wisdom in all his ways. You can have a very successful son in the eyes of the world, and still have a child who is a fool. Many fortunes have been won then lost because a young man is filled with business savvy, but has no wisdom in the way he lives with the riches he amasses. A wise son, though not rich or wealthy, is such a delight to his father. He watches his boy make good decisions - to love his wife and his children. He watches as his boy makes decisions according to the wisdom his father has taught him - both his earthly and heavenly Father that is.
Our proverb turns to the mother though, and refers to how her foolish son treats her. The passage says that he despises her. The word for "despises" is the Hebrew word "bazah" which means to hold in contempt and disdain; to consider worthless or vile. It is quite a strong word and it indicates a child who is very foolish because he does not appreciate his mother. He holds her in contempt even though she has loved him and cared for him. Many a foolish boy is ashamed of his mother - and cringes when she shows him love openly. Such a young man will not be blessed in his life, because he disdains one of the choicest servants he will ever know. In despising his mother like this, he disains his father on earth - her husband, and he disains his Father in heaven - her maker and the One who gave her to him.
How a child views his mother has much to say about his heart. The child who is more concerned with looking cool to his friends will treat his mother with contempt and disdain. He breaks her heart often - even though she continues to serve and love him. This young man has no humility or gratefulness, which will come back to haunt him later in life. He spurns her wisdom for the opinions of his foolish friends. Solomon's son did this with his father's advisors and watched his kingdom split as a result.
Oh, young man - and honestly, even older men. Treasure the mother that God gave you as one of His choicest gifts. Openly acknowledge her to others and praise her before your friends. I often tell people that when a young man courts your daughter, pay close attention to how he treats his mother. You are watching in that how he will one day treat your daughter. When a man cannot love and honor and treasure his mom, you are looking at a fool. That fool will not prosper in ways that matter for eternity - you can bank on the Word of God that this will be true. Therefore fathers, teach your sons by your actions and attitudes to honor their mothers - to thank them for all that they have done for them. Teach them that this is practice for having a prosperous and delightful marriage. If they cannot treasure the woman who they can see - how will they be ready to treasure one they have not seen yet?
The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns, But the path of the upright is a highway. Proverbs 15:19
How are you at getting to things in life? Is it difficult to get going on things - to start projects - to get things done at work - at home - anywhere? This is an interesting thing to consider, especially in light of the proverb for today. We are going to see that this trait may point to things that may have cause for some serious thought - and possibly some repentance.
The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns. This is the first thing we see as we look at today's proverb. First we see that God's word calls a man lazy. This is a character description. It means that he will not work - or better said from this verse - won't get around to working. He is probably undisciplined and most likely unprofitable to himself, his employer, his family, and ultimately his God. His way, we read here, is as a hedge of thorns. Biblically this is more than just our garden variety North American thorn hedge. In Israel they had some very serious thorn hedges. They were extremely thick and were excellent fences around their fields. Pretty much nothing could get through these hedges. For the lazy man - his way is as a hedge of thorns. The word "way" here means his lifestyle. This man is averse to work, therefore he can find a million different reasons why he does not work. They sound somewhat convincing until you realize he is just lazy and doesn't want to work. His excuses are lame - and simply are cover for his lack of character.
The upright has a much different path. This man is godly and understands the value of faithfulness and working hard. Rather than constantly finding ways that he can get out of work - the godly man wants to do things that benefit his family, his friends, his community, and ultimately even himself. His path is like a highway - nothing blocking him and preventing him from accomplishing his goals.
To answer the questions at the beginning of this article, we should turn and take a good look at our actions. Then we should turn again and look inward a little. What is it that is keeping us from getting things done like we want? It is not the things we might think. It is a lack of character and godliness. The Holy Spirit wants to bear fruit in our lives - fruit like faithfulness and self-control. If we do not see such things in our lifestyle - maybe we should take a closer look at things like our adherance to a biblical work ethic. Maybe we should also take a much closer look at our spiritual condition and walk with God. If our proverb is right, we may just find the answers to our questions there.
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute. Proverbs 15:18
Whenever we face a situation where we can react in anger we have a choice. I know that some don't think so because they say that so-in-so made me angry - or such-and-such a situation made me mad. The facts would say something much different. They say that we control our temperment - not that circumstances and people control what we do. Today's proverb helps us understand this. Each day as we begin to interact with people and face a world filled with its varicolored situations, we need to do so making a conscious choice. What that choice should be is the topic of God's wise counsel to us in this verse.
We have a choice whether we are going to be "hot-tempered" or not. The Hebrew word for "hot-tempered" is very instructive and descriptive here. It is "chemah" and means to be rage-filled, angry, and filled with poison or venom. This is fascinating because we need to make a conscious choice not to have the venom and poison of the evil one flowing through our veins as we walk through our day. By this I am not saying that we are demon possessed or anything fantastical like that. Instead I refer to a much more subtle thing that energizes the strife that will follow such a man through his day. Let me explain.
Each day we live we interact with others and with our environment from morning to night. As we do this we have both problems and problem people come into our lives. It is possible as we do this to be bitten by the evil one in such a way that his venom and poison enters our system. This usually happens when someone hurts our feelings - or tramples what we perceive to be our right to be treated better or with a certain modicum of respect. It can also happen when we begin to entertain the thought that a certain set of providential circumstances are a raw deal. If we are not careful to cry out to God to remove such venom from the veins of our thinking and our heart - it can begin to do its insidious work in us. Over time this poison will turn to bitterness against someone - resentment grows to a point where what at first was an annoyance becomes a seething cauldron of anger and rage toward someone. In regard to circumstances that our God allows providentially in our lives, we can think Him cruel and uncaring. This poison will turn our hearts a deep shade of bitter - and we soon find it hard to read His Word, pray, and ultimately to trust Hiim to cause all things to work for good. As the infection spreads deeper in our reasoning, we soon become angry at our core - which is where this one is in this verse. Thus the temper of his soul is such that he is constantly stirring up strife. I've known men over the years who say that trouble seems to follow them. But in a majority of the cases, they were one who had allowed the venom of the evil one through slights and circumstantial difficulties to reach a critical mass in their hearts. The trouble they perceived to follow them - really was trouble that they encoruaged because they are so angry in their core. I've even watched this in some who do this not through active agression - but through passive-agressive actions and words (or the lack of them).
There is another choice we can make in the Lord. That is that we become those who calm disputes. These are those who have at their core a work of the grace of God that makes them slow to anger. The Hebrew word used for this is one that is also used to describe long pinions - which are the largest feathers on the wing of birds. These particular feathers are used in birds to reduce drag on their wings thus helping them control both the wind and the turbulence that is natural in the sky while they fly. What an astounding picture this is for us of the patient, long-suffering man who chooses to calm disputes rather than fuel them. Like a bird who uses their long pinions to ride the wind while diffusing the problems it causes - these people ride the events of everyday life. They choose to deflect and diffuse both the insults and indignities of life - as well as the problematic providences that we cannot change. Rather than having such things make their flight a bumpy one, their choice to be slow to anger allows them to ride the difficulties of living on earth rather than having the things of earth ride rough-shod over them.
A wise man knows that life is not going to be fair - neither is it going to bow down and kiss his feet every day. He knows that since we live in a fallen world, that he will run into fallen people who act . . . well, they act fallen. Therefore he chooses to turn to God, who deals with the indignities of over 7 billion people daily, and yet who does not consume them with His wrath. This grace daily allows him to stretch forth his spiritual pinions and diffuse the problems and the poison that would turn him from being a peaceful, gracious man into an angry strife-ridden one. May God give us mercy that we would be such men and women.
All the days of the afflicted are bad, But a cheerful heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15 (NASB)
So, how is your attitude lately? Here in today's proverb we have an interesting truth that is being presented to us. The truth has to do with what is governing our hearts, or said another way, our choice to how we look at our circumstances in life. We can choose this, whether you know that or not, and it will truly govern what kind of day we are going to experience. Intrigued? Then let's take a look at the proverb today and learn how choosing our attitude each day in response to the grace of God can govern in many ways what kind of day we are going to have.
All the days of the afflicted are bad. This seems to be a "University of Duh" kind of statement, if there was not a second part to this proverb. But this is not speaking of those who are dealing with affliction and hardship and trouble alone. The second half of the proverb points us to what is ruling in a man's heart. The truth of the matter is that often feeling bad in the midst of affliction is far more a matter of the heart than it is just the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Let me explain.
There are those who in the midst of very difficult affliction seem to thrive and keep a great attitude - and - there are those who even in abundance, consider themselves afflicted. I've watched people face the most awful circumstances and still have a cheerful attitude. They are the kind of people you go visit in the hospital, and after leaving the room you wonder who came to encourage who? You can supposedly to encourage and lift their spirits - but leave honestly more encouraged by them. They seem to have an almost inconquerable spirit about them. The reason being is that they do not face life thinking they are afflicted. They do not look at the glass as always half empty. They look at things in light of the grace of God.
When you realize that you deserve hell and the wrath of God for your sin. When you grasp that you honestly deserve nothing but punishment and affliction for the choice to grieve God and live in rebellion to His will. Then you grasp that God in His mercy did NOT punish you - and then in infinite grace sent His Son to pay the price for your rebellion and sin. That you have been given life and life abundantly instead in Christ Jesus. Well, then nothing in this life can even begin to disturb you at your core. I am not saying that afflictions won't hurt and that problems might not get you down initially. But the fact of your salvation should blow your mind and bring you to where you have continually a cheerful heart. Paul warned the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord. He told them again that they should rejoice. This was to protect them from having the sense of an afflicted heart - that would eventually see a cloud inside of every silver lining. Instead we should see how God in His mercy had blessed us beyond all measure. When we see this, we should be filled with a happy heart - a redeemed heart - a joyful heart - and as we read here a cheerful heart. Grace and grace alone is ground to have this indominatable cheerfulness control and utterly dominate your demeanor.
The cheerful heart, we read here, has a continual feast. Christians should have a great attitude - at all times. We should know that light and momentary discomforts (which when you read what Paul called light and momentary seem far from that description) are working for us an eternal weight of glory. We need to know that the varicolored trials and difficulties that we face are reason to rejoice exceedingly - for they are working endurance in our lives. This endurance will result in being mature and complete - lacking nothing in our lives. There is nothing - absolutely nothing that will ever separate us from the love of God that was given to us in Christ Jesus. Therefore even death is not a problem any more. We can walk through life knowing that the final foe is defeated. This, dear saints, is what can fill your heart with joy (i.e. here called cheerfulness) no matter what is going on in your life. I've even seen those facing death have a cheerfulness about their demeanor.
So, what will be your choice today? Will you walk about as one of the continually afflicted - manifesting an "Eyeore-ish" ability to see the reason to not rejoice? That will make every day that you live seem as if it has some bad aspect to it. There is another choice, which is to fill your heart with a joy that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul said it best in Romans chapter 5 when he said, "Therefore, having been made righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God."
The king's favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, But his anger is toward him who acts shamefully. Proverbs 14:35
Anyone who has ever worked knows the difference between receiving the favor of your boss versus receiving an angry rebuke or tirade. Today's proverb reminds us that when we serve others - especially a king or person in high authority - it is good to be prudent in how we perform our duties.
The king will show favor to a servant who acts wisely. The word for "wisely" here is the Hebrew word, "sakal" which has as its root meaning to act with prudence. One who acts wisely takes time to consider his actions. He ponders what the consequences are for a word that he speaks or an action that he takes. He wants to understand and have insight into what he does. Any leader loves having such a servant or employee. They are not quick to rush into things and as a result make fewer mistakes. They are good employees because they honestly think of the good of the company - and are prone to being selfless toward others.
The king or boss in a situation will react with angrer though toward someone who acts shamefully. The idea behind this word is to cause shame or disgrace. Leaders know that when someone is not thinking and not pondering their choices - they will inevitably walk into a lot of problems. These particular problems are enough to shame a boss - or disgrace a king. It should not shock us therefore to learn that the king or boss reacts with wrath against this one. They are not only falling down on the job - but they are failing in a way that is bringing shame and disgrace on the business.
The foolish man acts without taking time to think about what is about to do. He has even less knowledge of the potential consequences for what he is doing. He does not want any restraint upon himself. The wise man looks things over and is careful to make a decision consistent with what is best for his authorities. That is why the king shows him such favor.
Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34
Today we look at how a nation is blessed or disgraced. According to our proverb righteousness or doing what is right exalts a nation. Therefore, if we want to be exalted and blessed, we must choose consistently what is right. But our nation faces a serious problem when it comes to this proverb. We no longer believe in a right and a wrong. Having bought the post-modern mindset hook, line, and sinker, we now believe that there is nothing more to believe in except what we want to believe in. Truth is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore we no longer hold to an absolute right and wrong. We no longer have a moral code that governs the hearts of men.
Our courts have decided that what is truly dangerous in our nation is to publicly display the 10 commandments so that school children can see them and read them. Never mind that one of the writers of our Constitution said that we have placed our hope in our ability to obey these Laws of God. Never mind that though we openly persecute the Christian moral code, we openly teach other religions in our classrooms under the guise of multiculturalism. It is dangerous to tell children not to murder, not to steal, not to lie or commit adultery. Thus we have our current modern dilemma. A society that decries the lack of civility as new acts of violence shock us worse that the previous ones that maudelinly decorated our newpapers and newcasts just weeks earlier. We wonder why kids would go into schools and wantonly kill each other. We are shocked at the debauchery of the generation that is coming up - astonished at their lack of conscience as they commit crimes with an ever-increasing display of horror.
We don't get it. Righteousness exalts a nation! We must return to an absolute truth that lays down absolute morals by which we are to live. What is astounding to me though is that such a righteousness will degenerate in one generation if all we rely upon is the rule of law to do it. We are incapable of righteousness in our own strength. Righteousness will only come by grace through faith. It comes to us as we turn from our own sinful and selfish ways and turn to Jesus Christ - the One Who came to die for our sins. It comes to us only as God's grace reaches out to us and grants us life. Thus we find that the righteousness that will exalt our nation will only come with a return to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then we are saved - we are redeemed - we are regenerated so that we desire to do God's will. Without the gospel law will break down into moralistic teachings taught by hypocrites who do not even do the things they teach others. The sad reality though is that we as a nation have legislated the gospel out of our society.
There is a false teaching that exists in the legislative world called the separation of church and state. This supposed wall exists in the interpretation that some pseudo-scholars have invented about the First Ammendment to the Constitution. That ammendment was put there to keep the state out of the churches' buisness. It was put there so that we would not have a state run church. Unfortunately it has been misinterpretted to mean that any open expression of Christianity within any state run or funded activity is prohibited. Thus our legislators have inadvertently chosen a state religion for all of us. It is the lack of God in our nation - at least the God of the Bible. So . . . our national religion is now either atheism and its more ignoranty companion, agnosticism - or it is any other religion than Christianity. What our founders sought to protect has been used in such a way as to openly persecute and wantonly disintegrate the faith that most of them held when they wrote it.
It should not shock us that we are a nation that has shunned righteousness. The churches did not hold fast the truth and spread the gospel. The corresponding lack of believers in the land, or worse, the proliferation of false believers who misuse and abuse the Scriptures, has led to a dearth of them in office. The lack of a Christian presence among the governing elite of our land has lead to a lack of respect for our founders' faith. Thus we have become a people who more and more legislate sin as the new righteousness of our land. We have decided to say that it is open season on unwanted babies and call it abortion - or a woman's right to choose. We have decided to destroy the black community and the poor by saying that we will allow a welfare state that rewards sexual promiscuity and having babies out of wedlock. We also have decided that work is no longer a sacred duty - but act like it is mercy to provide a living without requiring labor. We no longer call heterosexual immorality what God calls it - fornication - but feel that sleeping together or living together is a more genteel way of designating it. Rather than encourage faithfulness in marriage, we have advocated easy divorce and speak of blended families rather than broken ones. We have decided that homosexuality is not an abomination - no! - it is an alternate lifestyle. It even needs to be taught to the youngest of our children as a wonderful alternative to the straight people who are so hateful as to hold a biblical viewpoint. Our banks and businesses fail because we have reared a generation of crooks who no longer think that, "Thou shalt not steal" applies to them. Scandal after scandal rocks our statehouses and churchhouses as the concept of integrity in leadership fades as a mere memory of the past.
Does all this kind of shock and depress you? It should because sin is a disgrace to any people. To live like we have lived is to be disgraceful. To reject the living God for the idols of our current generation is an act of foolishness. It is foolish becuse we have rejected the Fountain of Living Waters to hew cisterns, broken ones, that can hold no water. Even history mocks our choices as we ignore the civilizations that have fallen before us. We turn a blind eye to the same sins that portended their demise and characterized the rot from within that toppled them.
We need to turn to God in prayer - humbling ourselves, praying, seeking His face, and turning from our wicked ways. We need a national revival first in our churches. They need to return to the faith of our fathers - seeing Christianity as the truth - and Jesus as the only way of salvation from a selfish and self-gratifying lifestyle. Even more than this we must remember that we will stand in God's judgment - which has already begun. We need to fear God which is the beginning of wisdom for us - and for our nation. Then we need a nation-shaking spiritual awakening that sees millions come to Christ. If we do not see such a thing - we are doomed to the ash heap of societies. Written over us in the end will be the same words written over Babylon - "Mene, Mene, Teckel, Upharsin." America has been weighed in the scales and found wanting. We will fall to another rising power with another statement written as our postscript. "Here lies the United States of America in ruins for she turned from righteousness and chose sin . . . which is a disgrace for any people."
The wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing, But the righteous has a refuge when he dies. Proverbs 14:32
God is going to deck the wicked. That is the basic idea that is being communicated here in today's proverb. The word wicked describes those who are law-breakers. The Law spoken of by this word is God's Law. The wicked have no regard for God's law - and honestly for any other law as well. They are rebellious and find themselves resisting and standing against any law that tries to restrict their freedom to do whatever they want. This is what will deck them in the end.
The second half of this proverb points us in a very interesting direction. We are told that the righteous has a refuge when he dies. Thus the proverb is not just dealing with things here and now - it is pointing us to when we die. What is going to happen to the wicked and the righteous when death comes? The righteous man will have a refuge in that day. His hope is in God's remedy for sin - the Lord Jesus Christ. His refuge is Jesus. He looks to Jesus Christ to give Him a righteousness that will stand on that day - and he rests in that as His salvation. The wicked will find that all they have on that fateful day is their own wickedness. What they will learn too late is that that evil will deck them on jugdment day. They will be accountable for their choices and their actions - which were wicked. What a horrifying day that will be for all those who trusted in themselves and their own righteousness. They will not have a refuge, but their very own doctrines will cast them to the ground.
In what are you trusting to stand on that day? Are you trusting that there won't be one - because that is a vain and empty choice. Are you thinking your good works will be weighed against your bad ones - and if there is more good you will make it? That is a foolish choice for it is not by our works that we are saved. Are you trusting that God is mercy and good and will overlook all your evil? That is unwise for it ignores the righteousness and justice of God. The righteous man knows the way - because he knows first and foremost of all that the righteousness upon which he stands is not his own. He gains that righteousness by faith, not by works. He looks to the Lord Jesus Christ to be his righteousness. Therefore he will stand and will have Christ's gifted righteousness as his refuge on the jugdment day. Again I ask, "In what will you be trusting on the great day of God's judgment. Trusting in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and risen from the dead will not stand. Take refuge in Jesus - in the One Who makes you righteous by grace.
He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. Proverbs 14:31
God is very serious how He views the poor - especially when people choose to oppress them and take advantage of them because of their poverty. The warning that we are given here is about oppressing the poor. The poor by their lack of money and influence are people who have a difficult time finding a way to deal with people who trample their rights. They have no money with which to address the legal system. They have no power among elected officials to influence them outside of their one vote. History has proven that there are a couple of groups who oppress the poor. These two groups are the rich and those who want to maintain political power. The rich do so most often by not offering the poor a living wage when it is within their power to do so. In an interest in getting richer, they take the wages that the poor should receive and keep them for themselves. God offers dire warnings to those who do this. The second group are those who use political power to oppress the poor. Even within our government it is advantageous to prevent the poor from bettering themselves by setting up a welfare state that encourages dependence. This is often not recognized as oppressing the poor because it maintains the illusion that the person in political power is helping them. But any system which traps people in poverty is oppressive, even if it oppresses by handing out what at first looks like free money.
Those who oppress the poor are taunting God. Taunting is such an ugly thing. When those who have an upper hand mock those less fortunate, it is disgusting. The Hebrew word indicates a mocking and open reproach of someone else. This is done in a way that deliberately desires to agitate or humiliate someone. The truly frightening thing about this kind of taunting is that the one doing it is infinitely less powerful than God. Usually the stronger one taunts the weaker. Here although the person is stronger in what is openly seen (i.e. the powerful oppressing the poor) they are probably unaware that their actions are taunting the living God. This is the most foolish thing anyone could possibly do. I get a picture of a bully taunting a small child, unaware that their incredibly strong and huge brother is standing behind them watching the whole thing. In that situation, as well as the one mentioned here in Proverbs 14
, someone is about to get a serious beat-down.
The wise man has mercy on the poor. He uses his position of strength and wealth to help them. The word mercy has the idea of being treated in a way we do not deserve. Therefore the wise and godly man remembers how God has treated him - and uses that as a barometer of how he should treat the poor. Maybe someone has become poor due to their own sinfulness. Even in this case we should show mercy and seek to help. This honors God because it reflects His own character in our actions. Whereas the fool taunts God by oppressing and taking advantage of the poor - the wise man wants a reward larger than the riches or power he can get on the backs of the unfortunate. He knows that in the end it will go well with the one who honors God.
A tranquil heart is life to the body, But passion is rottenness to the bones. Proverbs 14:30
The heart is physically one of the most important organs of our body. If the heart is stopped the body will die. But what we read in today's proverb is not dealing with the physical heart. It speaks of the heart as the innermost region of our lives. The Hebrew mind looked at the heart as the central, spiritual, inward aspect of our souls. So when we look today at the issue of the heart and whether it is tranquil and strong - or whether it is tossed about and weak - means everything to the blessedness of the individual who struggles with issues of the heart.
The tranquil heart is the quiet one. What God is saying here is that this person's heart is strong and quiet. Their inner life is like the clear, mirror-like, state of the water in the early morning on a lake. This person's peace and calm is not disturbed by things that happen around it. The "soul-life" is strong and they can deal with problems and difficulties. There is an ultimate sense of peace here, because this one knows that God is sovereign over all things. They know they are in God's hand no matter what their circumstances look like. The Word of God is their comfort - and they will hold to it no matter what information in life seems to contradict it.
On the other hand there is a person who has "passion" in his life. The proverb tells us that this passion is like a rottenness in his bones. Things like jealousy, anger, over-zealousness, and envy run rampant in this one's heart. As a result there is no stability in him. These things run roughshod over his peace and contentment. There is a constant passion running wild within this man - almost pushing him from one extreme to another. And like a rottenness in his bones - he feels more and more like all stability and peace is gone from him.
One might wonder the source of such a peace. It is the knowledge of the gospel that brings us to peace with God. If there is peace between us and our God, then we are at peace with Him - and know peace in our souls. I've watched as strong believers have gone through the most trying of times, but they do so with tranquility. That is what the gospel of Jesus Christ looks like - and even more what it produces. If our sovereign God holds us and holds all the universe - we can trust Him.
He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly. Proverbs 14:29
We see throughout the book of Proverbs that a quick temper is a negative thing in a person's life. It can get us into a world of trouble. Here we read that the man who is quick-tempered exalts folly. Giving in to anger, resentment, and bitterness in our lives only exalts folly. The idea here expressed is that it is the "unthinking" and "unreasoning" way to live our lives. Anyone can become frustrated or angry and then give in to having a blowout that involves a temper flaring up and expressing itself in hurtful words or actions. That exalts stupidity and living foolishly. What then, can keep us from exalting folly by being quick-tempered?
The Bible says that someone who is slow to anger has great understanding. The word for understanding here is "tebunah" and it means to have both understanding and insight. It is taking both knowledge and wisdom and applying it in a way that helps us look into our anger and examine it before reacting. That indeed is wisdom. We need to ask ourselves the question, "Why am I so angry about this?" Looking into our reaction often will make us ask deeper questions and deal on a deeper level than just saying, "I'm so angry about this!"
When we probe our anger we need to be ready to run into personal issues that exist on the inside of our lives. I will never forget the shock it was to me when an older, wiser man told me the reason I got so angry with my children was because of my pride. On the inside I wanted to snap back that it was their disobedience that was making me mad - not something wrong with me. In no way was this man saying I should not have disciplined them for being disobedient and rebellious - he was only saying that I needed to see why at times I felt out of control while doing it. His wise counsel was that my pride and anger came from a desire to control my children - so they would never disobey. My reason behind this thought was that my kids made me look bad as a parent when they disobeyed - and that made me angry. A wise parent would know that children are GOING to be disobedient because they are sons of Adam.
The fall of man will ensure that every child will be disobedient and rebellious in some way. Therefore having a disobedient child does not mean you are a bad parent. A parent who is failing in their role is one who does not discipline his or her child for their disobedience. I was failing not because I was disciplining my child - but becasue at times I was doing so in anger. My anger was foolish because I was expecting my child never to disobey - so I would look good in other people's eyes. Therefore my anger - when disected with understanding - was due to a couple of foolish things. First, I was not grasping the true nature of a child. Second, I was wanting my child to be good so I would not be bothered with having to interrupt MY DAY with things I did not want to do. Third, the reason I wanted a "good child" was so that my glory could be advanced. When looking at my quick-tempered responses suddenly I was a little horrified (understatement of the year) at their root. It was pride! Therefore wisdom applied - understanding deepened - and a willingness to have the Holy Spirit probe deeper into my motivations yielded repentance . . . and it yielded an ability over time to be much slower to anger.
Let me encourage any of you who are struggling with being quick-tempered. Take the time to submit yourself to the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to take you deeper into your angry responses in order to look at them and see them at the level of your heart motivations. He will walk you through this process and will help you to understand why you have a quick-temper at times. I will not say that this is pleasant - but God will do it with a view to repentance and restoration. He will do so with great grace and comfort - as well as a little heart surgery that will help you to become someone who is far more slow to anger. You will find that His grace and His gospel will be enough to turn from quick-tempered foolishness to patient love and understanding.