Wisdom Yields Patience

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A person’s wisdom yields patience; 
    it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
— Proverbs 19:11 

We continue with devotional thoughts from the Book of Proverbs every Friday. One of the 11 books in the Torah known as the Ketuvim, Hebrew for “writings,” Proverbs is part of the “wisdom tradition,” which also includes Job and Ecclesiastes.

There’s a teaching in the Talmud that I want to share with you. The rabbis taught, “Be slow to anger and easy to pacify.” At first glance this may seem simple. The rabbis are telling us that it’s not good to get angry. But it’s more than that. The rabbis didn’t say, “Never get angry.” That would be unrealistic. We all get angry sometimes. Even Moses, who the Bible says was the greatest of all prophets, got angry.  

They told us to “be slow to anger,” because anger speeds things up. When we’re angry, it’s all about the moment we’re stuck in. 

For example, someone might cut you off in traffic, and by the looks of the young man in the driver’s seat, you are pretty sure he is not in an emergency situation. Your anger is understandable, but there isn’t much you can do about it. Sure, you could try cutting off the driver the way he did to you, but that would only endanger your life and wouldn’t actually achieve anything.

Wisdom Yields Patience

Or maybe someone treated you unfairly or was unkind to you, but even after talking about it and telling that person how you feel, they refuse to see your side of it. You may be angry, and you may be right, but there is nothing more that you can say or do to change the situation. 

Proverbs teaches us that “wisdom yields patience.” In the Hebrew, he’erich apo literally means “slows down his anger.” The Bible is telling us that wisdom is the way to slow down our anger, to calm us at those moments when we feel anger inside. Why wisdom?  

The Jewish sages used a parable. Imagine a butcher is chopping meat with his right hand. His hand slips and he accidentally cuts his left hand. Should his left hand now grab the knife and cut his right hand in retaliation? So, too, when we lash out in anger because we feel wronged, all we do is bring more damage to the situation.  

It takes wisdom to take ourselves out of the moment and see the bigger picture. By slowing down our anger, we allow wisdom to take over and we bring peace to the world. 

Your turn: Can you think of a time when you went with your anger and regretted it? Let’s remind ourselves to slow down and allow wisdom to take over. 

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