Rule Your Spirit
It is difficult for me not to feel immediately angry or frustrated in response to reading about injustice. There seems to be a constant report of frustrating news along with the good news, especially in this season. I’m honestly saddened and angry (the kind you feel when you know something isn’t wrong, not the petty or empty anger) to hear the amount of vitriol and discrimination thrown at the very idea of policing and law enforcement.
It is honestly tragic that there are situations where people abuse their badges and offices towards others, but it is foolishness to assert that the very idea of enforcing the law and protecting communities is not worth funding or is the better alternative to open communication and transparency. Domination and vengeance instead of healing and unity is never the right answer.
Responding to very real issues of injustice and discrimination violence and even more discrimination is about as backwards as it can get. There is a part of me that wants to respond more intensely, to loudly rebuke corrupt leaders and foolish people who only want to create a world led by anarchy and moral relativism. There is an urge to just be angry, to be ready to rant, to match their fury with your own.
But I know better, and I was quietly reminded of the better way, this morning.
This is one of the passages from Proverbs from June 10th in the One-Year Bible:
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. (Proverbs 16:32)
The response to their outrage and unchecked, destructive attitudes is not to match it with similar intensity. Standing against evil is more than acceptable, it is right. But the Holy Spirit response is to match the behavior of God Himself. Slow to anger, and in full control of our inner person. We can restrain and command our flawed human emotions, and that makes us mightier than any conqueror (or rioter) who may claim a city as their own.
I pictured a waterfall when I re-read that line “he who rules his spirit”. The waterfall is consistent; it maintains a volume that is loud enough to be heard by everyone, but never reacts to the volume thrown its way with an even harsher reply. It has a set beginning and end and does not respond to the intimidation or insults of others with similar insults. It drowns out and overwhelms with self-control and discipline of mouth. It is a natural symbol of tranquility and beauty. It is a source of refreshing and life-giving water.
Rule the volume of your spirit and your anger. I absolutely know there is real injustice, and rebellious, relentlessly unrepentant people taking advantage of crisis. But while they rage on and eventually discover that the only answer silence, you stay your course. Keep flowing with life and peace, maintaining your volume of freedom and joy without feeling the need to yell louder than those around you.
They’ll bellow all they want, but God will not be moved by their rage. He will solve injustice and bring total peace, but He will only hear the voice of the waterfall. Be slow to anger in every situation, rule your inner person and inner voice. You are absolutely called to boldly stand against stubborn evil, but you will push them all away with the might of perfect peace — and there’s no amount of insult, intimidation, or volume that will drown you out.
Have you ever tried yelling over the sound of a waterfall? It is remarkably difficult, especially with the really big ones. The waterfall does not increase its volume in response to you, no matter how foul-mouthed or loud a human voice tries to get. It continues on as an awe-inspiring and beautiful picture of the patience and mercy of God.
So, don’t shout with your mouth or your keyboard. Do not find yourself red-faced with frustration, no matter how justified your feelings are. Try to hear the perfect, peaceful roar of rushing water, and hear the voice of God in that place. When you do, you are mightier than the greatest conquerors of history.