Friday, May 22, 2015

Proverbs 14:29 -- On Slowing Down and Counting to Ten

"He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly."
Proverbs 14:29

It's sometimes hard to think of emotions as things that we can learn and control.  We like the idea that they just are, and we don't have control over it when they take us over... less responsibility that way. Unfortunately for our escapist tendencies, God asks us specifically to "bridle all your passions." We also learn in Psalms 145:8 some of the attributes of God: "The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy."  God is slow to anger as well, and so as we try to emulate him and walk as he walked, we should probably work on that.
In striving to understand and control our passions / emotions, the speed thing often comes up.  When we are out of control, we act immediately and often devastatingly, harming ourselves and others by venting our emotions before we really understand the situation or have considered the consequences.  It is probably fair to say that we "exalt folly" when we rush in.  Slowing down gives us space to think and make better decisions.  So maybe one of the first steps we can take is to just slow down those reactions.  The whole idea of counting to 10 or counting down from 5 is a popular one, and perhaps often mocked, but those might be good steps to take in learning to calm ourselves down, which is essential to taking this slow and learning to make wiser decisions.
Today, as we go throughout our days and experience emotions and react to things, let's really think about what we're choosing, and let's work on emulating God and being slow to wrath.  Let's find a way to calm ourselves down when we start getting out of control... and out of control is sometimes just saying something that we have to apologize for later.  Let's stop before we go there.  Let's work on loving the people around us and treating them well, even when our current emotions make things harder.  Let's stay in control of what we say and how we treat people, and take responsibility for our actions, even when our emotions are extreme.

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