I was sitting quietly in Starbucks with my laptop, notebook and Bible, totally engaged in studying on dreams, when up out of my peripheral vision a nightmarish face invaded my space. It startled me and I grabbed ahold of my purse on the empty chair next to me and slid it onto the floor by my feet. I had earplugs in so I couldn’t hear what the grizzly-looking man was mumbling. A few moments passed and I heard Jane’s clear voice from the next table over, “We’re working here. We don’t have time to talk.” The man angrily mumbled something about the Bible and in a matter of minutes he got up and left.
Later on, Jane and I talked about it. She told me she was ready to fry the guy with her words the minute she saw him approach me, but she’s been practicing counting to ten before she speaks out of anger. It was amazing. Her quiet, honest words only got one low grumbled complaint before the nightmare man left.
I thought about a lesson I’d heard as a child: “When you get angry, count to ten before you speak.” Jane counts “one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, etc.” I learned it as: “one dimension, two dimension, etc.” I think it works with any three-syllable word, but the point is, it does work.
My tendency is to sit there and boil on the inside until I can hardly stand it and can’t concentrate anymore. Either that, or I fire off some snide remark out loud or under my breath.
Not Jane. She counted to ten and calmly and clearly told the man we didn’t have time for conversation. And it was true. I was studying for an article and she was working on promotions.
There are several verses in the Bible that say God is slow to anger. We are to “be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1).
Nehemiah 9:17 says this: “Thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.”
Counting to ten is one way to make sure we don’t fly off the handle in rage, but instead, be more like God, slow to anger. By calming ourselves we give the Spirit a chance to work, instead of being led by emotion.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a hot temper (maybe partly my Sicilian background?), but the truth is that no matter where it came from, only God can really change those built-in character bents. Unlike one who “flies off the handle,” the Lord is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy” (Ps. 103:8).
Psalm 145:8 tells us: “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” Anyone who knows the old Jane, knows she can cut to the bone and turn a live person to sand (figuratively) with her words. But her answer to the scary man in the coffee shop was full of compassion. She spoke the words calmly and straight forward. After counting to ten, she had no anger, just truth.
The wisdom of Solomon on slowing down our wrath, is found in Proverbs 15:18: “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.”
And Solomon goes on to say, “Better to be slow to anger than to be a mighty warrior, and one who controls his temper is better than one who captures a city” (Prov. 16:32). These are some very strong words.
Is it worth it to count to ten to calm our anger? Definitely! It is God’s will that we do it, as we can see from these scriptures.
In Colossians 3:1-3, the Apostle Paul admonishes us as Christians: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting on the right hand of God. [We’ll be there soon.] Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For [in reality] ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” He goes on to say in verse 5: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth.” Among the things he lists, is anger.
If you know any other way to be slow to anger, God bless you. For now, since I’ve seen the amazing true results in Jane, I’m going with “one dimension, two dimension, three dimension, four dimension, five dimension, six dimension . . . See, you’ve already tired of reading, so can our fiery anger also dissipate as fast? With the Lord’s help, I absolutely believe, YES!
A few days ago the same man walked by Jane in the same Starbucks and the demon in him audibly growled at her! But Jane has no fear. I hope to report to you sometime in the future that because of the goodness of God, this same man becomes like the man of the Gadarenes in Mark 5:15: “ And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind.”
One dimension, two dimension . . .
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