Many a month has gone by since I’ve been saved that I’ve read a proverbs chapter corresponding to the day of the month. In reading Proverbs recently this verse struck me: “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” (16:32).
There’s a story about George Washington that fits in with this verse. The incident occurred when the General was encamped with his troops during that harsh winter of 1777-78 in Valley Forge, PA. Thomas Conway was also a general but his character was quite a bit less than Washington’s. Conway had just been advanced by the Continental Congress as Inspector General of all the armies and there was some mounting opposition to the “Father of our Country” then by many in the Congress. Conway sought to capitalize on this and his recent promotion and decided to pay a visit to him, rubbing it all in George’s face, if you will, and pushing his new found authority at him. A kind of 18th century “naah, naah, naah, nah, naahh , naaahh” !! The old general was gracious despite the swagger of this upstart and egotistical man and told him “I will treat you and provide you with every ounce of respect and cooperation that your rank and appoinntments entitle the bearer of that rank and assignment. When official business demands that I consult with you, I will. No such business exists at present. You are dismissed.” Shocked, Conway stood in stunned silence, his arrogance had met its match in a calm yet firm reprimand from this great man and his commanding officer.
How easy it is to allow our emotions to ebb over into the dark side and we lash out in sinful anger as opposed to the kind our first President did then. The word “anger” here has the basic idea of flaring nostrils, so it suggests we can be really ticked but our fuse must be controlled by God and His Word not our person and passion. Jesus’ actions in cleansing the temple are a good case in point.
God’s Word says that incident revealed that Washington was “better than the mighty” and better than a conquering general taking a walled city ! The thing is, he was ready for this moment, the incident didn’t rule him, he ruled the incident. The arrogance didn’t intimidate and overwhelm him, he did that to the one who needed to be put in his rightful place ! Each day, like Washington, as you read and allow the Lord to work in your heart, He is building a character reflective of His. So when these little scenarios occur where someone or something would happen that would make most people flush with rage you will actually play out what the proverb says !! That’s exciting, because that’s the working of God in YOU, and that’s real, tangible proof that God is real and is so in YOUR life !