Slow to Wrath
A. Slow to Wrath
a. Its first meaning is nostril or nose… and even face.
b. It can also mean breath, i.e., the vapor and air which comes out of the lungs through the mouth or nostrils.
c. It then came to mean (and the one used most often in the Bible) is wrath.
d. Evidently, it came to mean wrath because you could SEE anger on a man’s face; in his nostrils. (The term is also sometimes translated face or countenance.)
e. This wrath is the fruit of the flesh (Gal. 5:19)
f. It is NOT something believers are to tolerate. And it is easy to get into the bad habit of tolerating anger… and justifying it by saying, “Everybody gets mad.”
g. We are to put away wrath. (Eph.4:31)
h. Even though everybody does it… God says its sin. The fact that everybody sins, is no justification for it.
i. God’s Word is clear: anger and wrath are the works of the flesh and they are to be put away. It is unacceptable behavior.
a. Slow = long 2 patient, slow
b. Used in conjunction with the terms “wrath” (slow to wrath) and “longsuffering”
c. The fact that we are to be SLOW to anger indicates that God expects us to have CONTROL over it.
d. Blowing up quickly is unacceptable behavior.
e. Jas. 1:19 – we are commanded to be SLOW to anger. Don’t blow up. Be longsuffering.
3. The expression implies that there are two kinds of people: those who get angry quickly, and those who get angry slowly.
a. Everybody gets angry…
b. However, we are commanded here to CONTROL our anger… be SLOW
c. This is virtually the same concept as longsuffering in the New Testament: long fused… it takes a lot and a long time before you blow up.
d. It is the capacity to hold anger in and defuse it, rather than to blow up…
e. What kind of person are you? Do you blow up easily, punch walls and throw things? Or are you SLOW to get angry?
f. What’s the difference between these two men (or women; or children)? The FILLING of the Holy Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23) Longsuffering and temperance!
g. Apart from God working in us—we ARE angry people… who WILL blow up. It is not our nature to be temperate and self controlled.
h. But we can keep our old man on the cross by faith… and the new creature in Christ will be filled with the Spirit… and thus, longsuffering and temperate.
B. Of Great Understanding
a. Defined: understanding; intelligence; insight; discretion.
b. The man who is slow to wrath has great insight into life; he has discretion; he has a good understanding of human nature… interpersonal relationships…
2. What does he understand?
a. Prov. 27:3 – He understands that wrath is a HEAVY thing; heavier than a rock.
• You could get HURT trying to move a large rock.
• It could crush your foot. It could roll over on someone else and do a lot of damage.
• It is burdensome trying to deal with it.
• So too with wrath: people get hurt. You will get hurt and you will hurt others.
• It is painful living with a person who refuses to control their anger. Everybody in the household suffers from their lack of temperance and self control.
• You say things in an outburst of anger that are hurtful for weeks and weeks… and there’s no taking it back.
• You can pull the sword out and apologize… and mean it… but the wound still hurts the other party.
b. Prov. 29:22 – he understands that anger leads to sin and transgression.
• It’s good to know that. It may keep you from sin.
• If you know where a road leads, and you don’t want to end up there, then you won’t take that road.
• But if you DON’T know where it leads, you may take it.
• It is good to have understanding concerning wrath. It can keep you from sinning—if you have understanding… if you stop and think.
• It can prevent you from saying unkind words; from cursing; from slandering; from striking another person; from destroying property; from seeking revenge; anger leads to all kinds of sins!
• A man of understanding knows this—and he stops, thinks, and chooses not to go down that road.
c. Prov. 30:33 – He understands that wrath results in strife between people.
• It divides… it pits one person against another… it polarizes…
• When people are angry at something in the local church, that anger can lead to breaking of longstanding friendships… and can even lead to a church split!
• In the home, anger uncontrolled can lead to strife… that seems to go on and on… unless it is dealt with.
• Anger can turn a happy home into miserable place.
• A wise man understands this—and reasons that it’s not worth losing my happy home over the fleeting pleasure I get out of blowing up… it’s not worth it.
• A wise man understands that anger can cause strife and division in the local church… and he reasons that it is not worth it. It is better to swallow my pride—let the other guy have the last word… and bury it. That’s wisdom.
• The same thing holds true in the office, or in school, or in the neighborhood — blowing up in anger isn’t worth all the chaos it causes.
• Blowing up in anger is a bit like a bomb blowing up. It always creates flying shrapnel, and destruction in its wake.
d. Prov. 19:19 – He understands that wrath is addictive… that it makes it easier to blow up the next time…
• The man with no control over his anger might have a friend who will dig him out of one mess he made… BUT — he will just dig another hole and must be delivered repeatedly… UNTIL he deals with the root of the problem: ANGER!
• And wrath brings its own punishment.
• What IS the punishment for uncontrolled anger?
• You have to live with yourself… and you have to live with all the messes, hurts, strife, and sin that your anger produced.
e. Prov. 15:1 – He understands that usually a soft word will turn away wrath.
• He is wise enough to know that although it feels good for the moment to blow up… afterwards there is a mess to deal with…
• AND that that mess can usually be averted by the tone of your voice… and a careful and gracious choice of your words. That’s wisdom.
• The man of understanding is slow to wrath. He understands HOW to control wrath. He understands how to prevent it from erupting and exploding.
• He knows enough to nip it at the bud… before it gets out of control and the damage is done.
• Prov. 15:18 – he understands that by being slow to anger he can actually appease strife. (appease = to quiet down). He is wise enough to know that by controlling his temper, he can control the situation… and even bring quiet to chaos.
• Proverbs 16:32 – He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty. The man who is slow to anger actually has more power and might than the ruler of the city. This is a powerful quality…
2. All of this crystallized into the proverb: it is WISE to control one’s temper!
1. The opposite is true as well: it is FOLLY to be hasty of spirit… to blow up easily.
a. Hasty = short; impatient.
b. A man of understanding knows this too, but the fool doesn’t.
c. Prov. 14:17 said nearly the same thing: He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly:
d. Prov. 12:16 – a fool’s wrath is presently known. When he gets angry, everybody knows about… instantly! You can hear him spewing out his anger way down the hall… all over the house… perhaps throughout the neighborhood… And note: this is the wrath of a FOOL.
3. If you KNOW what anger and wrath lead to (sin, strife, division, broken relationships, hurtful words and deeds, etc.) then it is folly indeed to be HASTY to become angry!
a. Hasty of spirit = the opposite of slow to wrath.
b. It is the opposite of patience, longsuffering, and being slow to wrath.
c. It is being HASTY to get mad…
d. It is the person who flies off the handle for every little infraction… whenever things don’t go their way.
4. Not only does he commit folly, he EXALTS folly!
a. Exalts: to lift up; rise up; to be on high; lofty.
b. The man who blows up instantly makes his folly conspicuous. Everybody knows he’s a fool. Just listen… watch! He proves it every time.