“A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression,” (Proverbs 19:11).
“A man of great anger will bear the penalty, for if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again,” (Proverbs 19:19).
In verse 11 some translations have, “Good sense makes a man slow to anger…” It just doesn’t make sense to be angry all of the time, and it doesn’t make sense to become angry at common everyday offenses. The writer of this proverb isn’t saying that a man of discretion (or good sense) never gets angry, he is saying that a person of good sense is slow to anger. People without filters are often quick to anger. People who insist on their own way are quick to anger. People who are not thoughtful and reflective about life are often quick to anger.
A person of discretion, a person exercising good sense, is a person considering the situation he or she is in; this person is weighing the importance of the issues at hand, considering how they first affect others, and lastly how they affect himself. If this person is a follower of Jesus Christ, hopefully he is submitting his heart and mind to Christ and the peace of Christ and not seeking to usurp control of his own life – for his life is no longer his own but belongs to Christ first and through Christ to others.
It could very well be that the situation that temps us to anger is a situation in which we can be irenic witnesses of Jesus Christ and serve those who are the cause of our offense or frustration. If we insist on venting our anger we often lose the opportunity to think clearly about the circumstances and also the opportunity to arrive at a peaceful resolution.
What is the penalty of great anger of verse 19? While the immediate penalty may be escalated conflict with its repercussions, driving others away, isolation, creating an atmosphere of fear and distrust, and disoriented and confused thinking – the writer of this proverb is also looking at the “man of great anger” as someone who has developed ‘great anger” as a way of life; so much so that “if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again”. The penalty becomes the life of great anger, and great anger’s penalty becomes a warped life, a twisted life, a smoldering volcano never dormant, always active, erupting with fire, smoke, poisonous gas, and lava; always invoking caution in those living in its shadow. People do not build homes at the mouth of volcanoes.
The secure person can overlook a transgression; in fact, to live in peace the secure person must overlook transgressions – for all of us transgress, all of us do things we ought not to do both intentionally and unintentionally – it is the nature of our present life – even those of us whose natures and characters are being transformed into the image of Christ. Letting transgressions go, overlooking them, is learning the way of Jesus Christ and the way of peace with others. If our justification comes from Jesus Christ, then our justification is not derived from making note of the transgressions of others so that we can justify ourselves (making ourselves look good) – our justification in Christ is all the more reason to overlook the behavior of others toward ourselves for we have the freedom in Christ to use discretion and good sense and to forgive.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.”