In my daily bible reading plan, I came across this verse recently. It comes from Proverbs:
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (Prov. 16:32).
I am constantly thinking about why I do the things I do. I am always studying and analyzing and trying to figure out why people do the things that they do. I am fascinated by the way people function. What disallows us to live from a distinctly Christian perspective, perpetually instead of periodically? We know what we need to do, but we are sometimes doing that which we need not be doing. We experience this tension. We are in a constant war. We are in a constant battle. We have the Holy Spirit who is alongside of us, assisting us. We have Christ who lives in us and for us. We have God who sees us, listens to us and cares about us. This is all true. But, we still sin. We still end up hurting other people. We end up being unpleasant. We can make others cry. We may hurt people who are closest to us. What is the reason for this?
I often hear the following excuses for irrational and out of control behavior:
- This is just part of my personality
- It is these genetics that I inherited
- I was tired and exhausted so this is why I acted in this manner
- The situation I was in forced me to do what I did
- I had no other choice!
- I am only human, what else do you expect?
- I am not perfect!
While all these statements might seem plausible to the person who is saying them, they are far from being true. In fact, I would say all these responses fail to correctly diagnose the real problem.
The wisest and wealthiest man in all the world is teaching us something of paramount importance here:
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (Prov. 16:32 NKJV).
I believe this verse explains why we are constantly losing control. I believe this verse explains succinctly the reason for why we do what we don’t want to do. If you are someone who always reacts rightly to every situation, then you are better than the average bear. But for the rest of us, there is some good points we can ponder on from this verse:
- He who reacts hastily to a situation lacks discernment.
- We need to take time to consider the outcome of our reaction.
- If we are to bridle our emotions, we would be much better off.
- If we are able to restrain our affections, we are stronger than an army who conquers a city.
- If we lack wisdom, we should ask God for it — and He will give it to us — generously and without reproach (Js. 1:5).
- We need to be aware of our depravity and act accordingly.
I love what Matthew Henry says about this verse. Here are two quotes from him as they relate to this topic:
- The conquest of ourselves, and our own unruly passions, requires more true wisdom, and a more steady, constant, and regular management, than the obtaining of a victory over the forces of an enemy.
- It is harder, and therefore more glorious, to quash an insurrection at home than to resist an invasion from a broad
Here are two reasons why we can lose control constantly.
1. Whatever fills your mind fuels your life. What is our mind filled with on a daily basis? Are we thinking about the things of God or the things of man? How consistent are we in reading Scripture? How is our prayer life? Do we pray hard or hardly ever pray? How often are we in fellowship with other believers. How consistently do we repent of sin to our close friends? Are we reading good Christian books? Are we filling our mind with junk? Are we being lazy in our approach to spiritual disciplines? Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Lk. 6:45). Our reaction to life situations is not a coincidence. It is a direct result of our diet that we have submitted to on a daily basis.
2. If you are not emptying yourself consistently, you will be full of yourself constantly. Jesus emptied himself for our sake and on our behalf (Php. 2:5-11). He became a nobody so that we could become somebody. The reason we tend to lose control is because things are not done are way. Our opinion was not valued. Our name was not mentioned. Our knowledge was not demanded. Our experience was neglected. Our needs were not met. Our feelings were hurt. Our presence was not prompted. Our skill was looked over. Our talent did not attribute endless accolades from surrounding peers. Our effort was under-appreciated. Our idea was criticized. Our vision was rejected. But, because we have a high view of “I” we have a low view of “You” or “Them.” Because we are so full of ourselves, we have no room to fit in others. We need to empty ourselves. We need tell others what Jesus told his disciples to tell people. We are merely unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty (Lk. 17:10).
If we want to keep control and maintain tranquility, we must watch what fills our mind because this is what fuels our life. We must understand that emptying ourselff or the good of others is what Jesus wants us to do.
Question: What other reasons can make a person lose control? What makes a self-controlled person stronger than an entire army?