Ruling Our Spirit: A Cause for Peace in These Troubled Times

By Austin Roscoe Published on September 27, 2017

What’s going on with the world?

Major hurricanes lining up one after the other. Earthquakes. Floods. Fires. Political unrest. Threats of war. Healthcare, taxes and now, even football, the former refuge from politics has become a place of ire.

Controversy after controversy, it seems as though there can be no unity in our nation. Tragedy after tragedy, it seems like there is no cause for peace.

“He Who Rules His Spirit”

The other day, I was listening to Proverbs as I drove to get my lunch. Proverbs 16 — a fantastic chapter in a fantastic book.

Though I’ve read it many times before, a phrase stuck out to me that I’d never noticed before:

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. — Proverbs 16:32 ESV

Rules his spirit. Perhaps it’d never stuck out to me because, since the first part of the verse talks about anger, the phrase is typically translated as “controls his temper.” But the actual Hebrew word used is “ruach,” and, in this context, refers to one’s disposition — or “prevailing tendency, mood or inclination,” according to Merriam-Webster.

To be even more specific, the examples of this “spirit” listed in the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon include vigor, courage, anger, impatience or patience, discontentment, unaccountable or uncontrollable impulses, and a troubled, bitter or crushed spirit.

Living With Hope in Troubled Times

As we observe the turmoil raging around us, it gives me hope to know that God created each of us with the ability to rule over our spirit.

The times are crushing. It’s easy to watch the news and be bitter at a world leader, politician or public figure. It’s easy to lose hope, to lose patience and to lose our temper.

Do you rule your feelings, or do they rule you? I know that I’m not always on top of my spirit. Sometimes I get carried away and let my feelings get the best of me. But it’s nice to know that, by God’s grace, we can subject our disposition to his truth.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. — 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you might be blameless and innocent, children of God in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation. Among them you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life. — Philippians 2:14-16a TLV

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. — 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV


Father, please steady our hearts and minds in these troubled times. Help us to anchor our hope in you, and not lose sight of your Kingdom — that which is truly important in this world. Lead us in your ways, oh Lord, and let us not forget that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, authorities, powers and evil spirits in the heavenly places. You, Lord, are over all, and in all, and through all. To you be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

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