Temper, Temper!

Child crying in shopping cart

He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is hasty of spirit exposes and exalts his folly.
Proverbs 14:29 AMP

Do certain scriptures ever follow you around, or haunt you, or get used to taunt you? The Proverb above checks all three boxes for me. If you have been sanctified into the first part of this Proverb, then please pray for me. All too often of late, I am an exposer and exalter of folly, particularly my own.

I witnessed a pretty spectacular tantrum in the grocery store last week. A little boy, 2 or 3 years old, had apparently been grabbing things he wanted off the shelf, and mom had finally discovered her son’s stash. They were in the process of putting the last items back, and it was all too much for the wee grocery bandit. As mom took the last item from him, his sobs escalated into a wailing cry of pure rage: “Now I have NOTHING!”

Plenty of people witnessed this tantrum, and most of them clucked and shook their heads, as if to say, “Kids! What are you gonna do?” This hit a little close to home for me though, so I didn’t commiserate. Depending on what God asks of me, this ridiculous, over-the-top, angry response is pretty close to the truth. I have several times found myself yelling angrily at God, “What more could You possibly want from me??!!” It’s not at all pretty. It IS absolute, wicked folly.

Now, this is the truth of how I sometimes greet the Cross, but it’s not the end and it isn’t even the reality. I really was haunted by Proverbs 14:29 – I couldn’t escape it. I just couldn’t even imagine a time when I wouldn’t identify primarily with the hot-tempered fool. Turns out, despairing of my wicked folly gave the Holy Spirit room to move. He told me that I was looking at it the wrong way.

Proverbs 14:29 is a promise of what God has for me, not what I need to discipline myself into through FAITH THAT MOVES MOUNTAINS and RECEIVING THE BLOOD and REPENTING! The all-caps are meant to illustrate how I take the ways and means of the Spirit and move them into the realm of my human effort. I WILL NOT LOSE MY TEMPER AGAIN! I WILL BE GOOD!

The Spirit brought me the Proverb for the purpose of repentance, but the repentance was meant to open the door to His move and sanctification in my heart and life. I wasn’t supposed to hoist the truth on my back and do my best to fix it. And the Spirit has a quiet sense of humor with me, so He chased me around with His promise until I just couldn’t take it any more and was willing to beg Him to talk to me. Totally worth it!

My temper is His problem because He bought it when He bought me. All I can do is tell the truth and let the truth bring my heart to repentance. He’s got to do the heavy lifting, and He will. Because He knows that I view Him and His ways all wonky, and He knows what needs to be done to turn me right-side up. This is what it means to be loved by One who knew your whole wicked heart, and then bought you out of slavery anyway.

But I trust in Your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because You have rescued me.
 Psalm 13:5 NLT

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    • Irene

      I see a definite contrast in this verse: slow/hasty. My hasty responses, (quick-temper), are teachable moments which, as you point out Jennifer, the Spirit uses to expose my sin or reveal to me where I am deceived. But when I slow down, am still and listen, it gives the Spirit space to reveal Truth to me resulting in understanding which in turn brings repentance. So I see that my part, the discipline part, is to slow down and listen to Him.

    • Sandy

      You’re hilarious Jennifer! 🙂
      Self effort is such a natural reflex that we have! It’s amazing how even that can reflect God’s love so that we can see Him!
      …as GOD!

    • Jack

      The quick angry response; why, I haven’t done that since yesterday.

    • LA

      Oh Jenn, it may sound greedy but–this is SO for me! Thank you for dying to your own story to pour out HIS story and bring life to us. I thought I’d given God ownership of so many things; my life, kids, job…certainly possessions. But in the past year He has brought it about to remove me from my home, send my kids off to schools where I can’t visit or participate, put me in a job six days a week–I even was compelled to sell my first non-minivan in … years! But guess what? I have a easy care place to live, my work has become incredibly meaningful, and–the kicker–I have been given a vehicle from my office for personal use! May I just say that–HE IS good. Always.

      • LA

        Oh, and that ‘my’ children are in situations where they are becoming more HIS–LOL
        Conversations are more distilled instead of lazy, if that makes any sense. Sometimes there’s not even talk, just togetherness. Amazing GOD!

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