There is in each of us the seed of self-control, the power to be master of our own character, to act according to our conscience. But there is also a passion which often gets in the way of self-mastery. It is the loss of one's temper, and it has resulted in more tragedy and sorrow than almost any other trait. William Jordan said, "The second most deadly instrument of destruction is tht gun, the first is the human tongue."
We all have tempers. They area quality of disposition, an integral part of our character. But they must be regulated, because the degree to which we have mastery over ourselves is always measured by how well we control our tempers. "Temper, if ungoverned," said Anthony Cooper, "governs the whole man."
There will always be a need to control our disposition, perhaps more so today because of man's increasing and varied knowledge. We must not leave our tempers unchecked when there are varied knowledge. We must be tolerant of others. We must not leave our tempers unchecked when there are differences of opinion. Lord Chesterfield wrote, "A man who cannot command his temper should not think of being a man of business." And we could add, a man of politics, or public service, or education as well.
There is not doubt that it takes courage to control one's temper. Many say that a quick release of temper is a safety valve for inner tension. But the danger, of course, is the hurt which can be caused by a moment of anger, and the regret which comes when we regain our composure.
Perhaps we should remember the words of the great 17th Century Spanish philosopher Baltasar Grecian, "Never act in passion. If you do, all is lost. You cannot act for yourself if you are not yourself and passion always drives out reason. As soon as you notice that you are losing your temper, beat a wise retreat."
Pastor Hans Lillejord