Ruling the Spirit
“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” He has conquered self,–the strongest foe man has to meet.
The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. He who can stand unmoved amid a storm of abuse is one of God‘s heroes.
To rule the spirit is to keep self under discipline; to resist evil; to regulate every word and deed by God‘s great standard of righteousness. He who has learned to rule his spirit will rise above the slights, the rebuffs, the annoyances, to which we are daily exposed, and these will cease to cast a gloom over his spirit.
It is God‘s purpose that the kingly power of sanctified reason, controlled by divine grace, shall bear sway in the lives of human beings. He who rules his spirit is in possession of this power.
In childhood and youth the character is most impressible. The power of self-control should then be acquired. By the fireside and at the family board influences are exerted the results of which are as enduring as eternity. More than any natural endowment, the habits established in early years will decide whether a man shall be victorious or vanquished in the battle of life.
In the use of language, there is, perhaps, no error that old and young are more ready to pass over lightly in themselves than hasty, impatient speech. They think it is a sufficient excuse to plead, “I was off my guard, and did not really mean what I said.” But God‘s Word does not treat it lightly. The Scripture says: “Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.” “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”
The largest share of life’s annoyances, its heartaches, its irritations, is due to uncontrolled temper. In one moment, by hasty, passionate, careless words, may be wrought evil that a whole lifetime’s repentance can not undo. O, the hearts that are broken, the friends estranged, the lives wrecked, by the harsh, hasty words of those who might have brought help and healing!
Overwork sometimes causes a loss of self-control. But the Lord never compels hurried, complicated movements. Many gather to themselves burden that the merciful Heavenly Father did not place on them. Duties he never designed them to perform chase one another wildly. God desires us to realize that we do not glorify his name when we take so many burdens that we are overtaxed and, becoming heart-weary and brain-weary, chafe and fret and scold. We are to bear only the responsibilities that the Lord gives us, trusting in him, and thus keeping our hearts pure and sweet and sympathetic.
There is a wonderful power in silence. When impatient words are spoken to you, do not retaliate. Words spoken in reply to one who is angry, usually act as a whip, lashing the temper into greater fury. But anger met by silence quickly dies away. Let the Christian bridle his tongue, firmly resolving not to speak harsh, impatient words. With the tongue bridled, he may be victorious in every trial of patience through which he is called to pass.
In his own strength man can not rule his spirit. But through Christ he may gain self-control. In his strength he may bring his thoughts and words into subjection to the will of God. The religion of Christ brings the emotions under the control of reason, and disciplines the tongue. Under its influence the hasty temper is subdued, and the heart is filled with patience and gentleness.
Hold firmly to the One who has all power in heaven and in earth. Though you so often fail to reveal patience and calmness, do not give up the struggle. Resolve again, this time more firmly, to be patient under every provocation. And never take your eyes off your divine Example.
God‘s ideal for his children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil. And he has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul to keep him from sinning.
The tempter’s agency is not to be accounted an excuse for one wrong act. Satan is jubilant when he hears the professed followers of Christ making excuses for their deformity of character. It is these excuses that lead to sin. A holy temper, a Christlike life, is attainable by every repenting, believing child of God.
— E.G. White, Review and Herald, 10/31/1907