Be slow to anger, ready to forgive

Published 12:09 am Friday, January 25, 2019

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

It was a yucky December day: raining, cold, dark and gloomy outside — not a day anyone would want to go out, but nevertheless, I had some errands to run.

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I was driving down U.S. 61 South, passing over Melrose Parkway in the right lane, when suddenly, a black truck started coming over in my lane.

I could sense the truck getting closer to mine and finally had to swerve out of the way while braking, the car behind me almost rear-ending my vehicle (they were texting and driving).

Some choice words from road rage burst forth — a familiar beast that lurks inside us all, but one more easily enraged than usual on this rainy day.

To make things worse, the driver waved at me afterwards, as if I had politely let them over.

I couldn’t believe it, yet, I wasn’t surprised —it happens all the time in all cities. I had to get in the left lane for my first errand, and traffic began to slow down due to an upcoming traffic light switching to red.

“Great,” I thought, “Now I’m going to be right beside this inconsiderate driver that cut me off.” I could feel the road rage start to bubble up to the surface as I pulled up next to him. I could see the driver staring at me.

I decided to keep my composure by looking straight ahead. After a few moments, the driver rolled down his window (keep in mind that it was still raining), and started frantically waving to get my attention.

Hesitantly, I rolled down my passenger window and I found myself looking at an older man, probably in his mid-to-late 60’s.

He was wearing a Vietnam Veteran’s hat — immediately I felt guilty, because I’m a Chaplain in the US Air Force and he was a brother in service.

“I’m so sorry, sir, I didn’t see you — please forgive me,” the man said, ashamed of what had happened less than a mile back.

At that moment, a split second — I had a choice: I could either be extremely rude in return and tell him how I had really felt or I could forgive him.

“It’s all right, it happens to all of us,” I said.

The man let out a sigh of relief. “Thank you for your service,”

I told him, causing him to grin from ear to ear. I told him I was an Air Force Chaplain and wished him a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! He thanked me for my service and said, “God bless.”

The light turned green and we went our separate ways.

As I watched him drive away, I asked God for forgiveness, and to give me a better heart, especially for controlling my road rage.

God is always working on us. We all start as a large, blank piece of thick wood. Over the course of our lives, God whittles us into the creations we’re meant to be — a creation made in His image.

On that yucky, rainy day of running errands, God was showing me how to be a better person and to live according to His Word even more.

Whoever that man was (and if you’re reading this now, I thank you for being humble and asking for forgiveness), it truly impacted me and put me in my place for the rest of the week.

We never know what someone is going through on any given day — be patient, loving, forgiving, and “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger,” for “whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” (Proverbs 17:27).

THE REV. SETH DUHS is the pastor of New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Natchez.