“The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult… Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city…The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.” (Proverbs 12:16; 16:32; 17:14)
“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun. For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?” (Ecclesiastes 7:8-13)
It is not unreasonable to become discouraged just thinking about anger because it is such a destructive force in our relationships. Yet, vexation is a common experience that it must be managed. The verses from Proverbs remind us of the foolishness of becoming angry quickly. But how can a person change? Proverbs 12:15 states, “a wise man listens to advice,” which probably helps him to ignore an insult (v. 16). Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” So we should consider what God is doing before becoming vexed with our circumstances, even in relationships. This brings us to Ecclesiastes, which speaks of the things of our lives—how they develop, our attitude toward them, and the role of godly wisdom as we consider them.
I was drawn to the passage from Ecclesiastes because of verse 9, which advises us to not be quick in our “spirits” to become angry, continuing our theme from yesterday, about letting go of anger before the day is done. But the context of the verse instructs us to examine our frustration over what God is doing in our lives as a source of our anger. I wonder how often we become angry with others when we are actually angry with God. I used to be shocked at how frequently I resent something God has allowed in my life. Now I am thankful that we can approach God’s throne with confidence to share our hearts and be healed by the wisdom and grace of the gospel, which gives us the strength to be honest with ourselves and with the Lord.
We are quick to be critical of our condition (v. 9) as we look back with rose-colored glasses, judging the past as better than today, with our present-day frustrations—and this is not wise (v. 10). Rather than look back, we should see today through the lens of the future, with wisdom to protect us like a financial inheritance protects children (vs. 11-12). We will realize that the end of our lives will be better than the beginning (v. 8) as we consider all God has done, especially in Christ to make our crooked ways straight (v. 13). The wisdom of living life with an eternal view of God’s forgiveness in Christ gives us the peace and strength to handle daily frustrations, difficulties, and relationships without becoming angry.
“There is a future for the man of peace.” (Psalm 37:37b) When we are peaceful, we recognize all that God has done to provide a future for us and our spouses. Will you rest in God’s peace to wisely handle the issues that arise in your marriage or other relationships?