Temper, Temper

Temper is an interesting word, in that it means so many different things. Isn’t it odd that, “He’s of a good temper,” means the opposite of, “He’s got a temper”?

Some say when Jesus cleared the temple court he had a temper tantrum, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, he became angry, but it wasn’t quick, and not without good cause. Every generation since he created mankind has rebelled against his authority, trying to glorify themselves instead of their Creator. Exodus 32:9 (ESV) And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.” Later, Exodus 33:3 (ESV) “Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” Then, in Exodus 34:9 And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.” And much later, 2 Chronicles 30:8 recounts King Hezekiah’s letter to all Israel and Judah, “Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you.” That’s history, man!

Temper, Temper

Temper, as a noun, means a state or habit of mind, as in “temperament.” But more recently it has picked up the added implication of being easily angered, as in, “short-tempered.”

As a verb, temper goes back to when Latin was the lingo of choice, where it meant to add ingredients that change a substance’s properties. From there it went into metallurgy, where iron was heated in charcoal so it could pick up carbon and become steel. When technology advanced a bit more, it referred to the process of toughening hardened steel, especially for swords, so they wouldn’t break in battle.

That was called, “tempering,” or, “drawing a temper.” Now, if you draw the wrong person’s temper, you might just get hurt.

But Jesus did none of that; he only became angry with hypocrites in their various guises. His apostle Paul referred in Ephesians 4:26 to Psalm 4:4, Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. When you get down to the cause of most anger, it’s from judging another’s motives, where they cause us an inconvenience, damage, pain or injury.

In the above passage, God’s Word prohibits us from allowing ourselves the luxury of a short temper. For years, that was my sin of choice, and it is a choice, and a habit, and habits can be broken, with God’s help.


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