He that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city - It is much easier to subdue an enemy without than one within. There have been many kings who had conquered nations, and yet were slaves to their own passions. Alexander, who conquered the world, was a slave to intemperate anger, and in a fit of it slew Clytus, the best and most intimate of all his friends, and one whom he loved beyond all others.
The spirit of this maxim is so self-evident, that most nations have formed similar proverbs. The classical reader will remember the following in Hor., Odar. lib. ii., Od. 2: -
Latius regnes, avidum domando
Spiritum, quam si Libyam remotis
Gadibus jungas, et uterque Poenus
"By virtue's precepts to control
The furious passions of the soul,
Is over wider realms to reign,
Unenvied monarch, than if Spain
You could to distant Libya join,
And both the Carthages were thine."
And the following from Ovid is not less striking: -
Fortior est qui se, quam qui fortissima vincit
Moenia, nec virtus altius ire potest.
"He is more of a hero who has conquered himself, than he who has taken the best fortfied city."
Beyond this self-conquest the highest courage can not extend; nor did their philosophy teach any thing more sublime.
When others are impatient, fretful, and complaining because self is not subdued, begin to sing some of the songs of Zion. While Christ was working at the carpenter's bench, others would sometimes surround Him, trying to cause Him to be impatient; but He would begin singing some of the beautiful psalms, and before they realized what they were doing, they had joined with Him in singing, influenced, as it were, by the power of the Holy Spirit which was there.39 AH 443.1
The Battle for Self-control in Speech—God requires parents, by self-control, by an example of solid character building, to disseminate light within the immediate circle of their own little flock. No trifling, common conversation is to be indulged. God looks into every secret thing of life. By some a constant battle is maintained for self-control. Daily they strive silently and prayerfully against harshness of speech and temper. These strivings may never be appreciated by human beings. They may get no praise from human lips for keeping back the hasty words which sought for utterance. The world will never see these conquests, and if it could, it would only despise the conquerors. But in heaven's record they are registered as overcomers. There is One who witnesses every secret combat and every silent victory, and He says, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”40 AH 443.2
If you refuse to storm or fret or scold, the Lord will show you the way through. He will help you to use the talent of speech in such a Christlike way that the precious attributes of patience, comfort, and love will be brought into the home.41 AH 443.3Read in context »
Never Lose Control of Yourselves—Never should we lose control of ourselves. Let us ever keep before us the perfect Pattern. It is a sin to speak impatiently and fretfully or to feel angry—even though we do not speak. We are to walk worthy, giving a right representation of Christ. The speaking of an angry word is like flint striking flint: it at once kindles wrathful feelings. CG 95.1
Never be like a chestnut bur. In the home do not allow yourself to use harsh, rasping words. You should invite the heavenly Guest to come into your home, at the same time making it possible for Him and the heavenly angels to abide with you. You should receive the righteousness of Christ, the sanctification of the Spirit of God, the beauty of holiness, that you may reveal to those around you the Light of life.13 CG 95.2
“He that is slow to anger,” says the wise man, “is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city.” The man or woman who preserves the balance of the mind when tempted to indulge passion stands higher in the sight of God and heavenly angels than the most renowned general that ever led an army to battle and to victory. Said a celebrated emperor when on his dying bed, “Among all my conquests there is but one which affords me any consolation now, and that is the conquest I have gained over my own turbulent temper.” Alexander and Caesar found it easier to subdue a world than to subdue themselves. After conquering nation after nation, they fell—one of them “the victim of intemperance, the other of mad ambition.”14 CG 95.3Read in context »
“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” He has conquered self—the strongest foe man has to meet. MYP 134.1
The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. He who can stand unmoved amid a storm of abuse is one of God's heroes. MYP 134.2Read in context »
Many falter and fall because of the indulgence of a perverse temper. Alexander and Caesar found it much easier to subdue a kingdom than to rule their own spirits. After conquering nations, the world's so-called great men fell, one of them through the indulgence of appetite, a victim of intemperance, the other through presumption and mad ambition. 4T 348.1
God calls upon you to yield pride and stubbornness, and to let His peace rule in your hearts. A meek and quiet spirit must be cherished. Carry Christ's meekness with you in all your labors. An excited temper and cutting censure will not impress the people or gain their sympathy. If we have the truth, we can afford to be calm and unexcited. Our language should be modest and elevated. The spirit you have cherished within has left its impression upon the countenance. Christ, enthroned in the soul-temple, will efface that fretful, peevish, unhappy look; and as the cloud of witnesses look upon a man reflecting the image of Christ, they will realize that he is surrounded by a pleasant atmosphere. The world will see that amid storms of abuse he stands unmoved, like the lofty cedar. That man is one of God's heroes. He has overcome himself. 4T 348.2
The largest share of the annoyances of life, its daily corroding cares, its heartaches, its irritation, is the result of a temper uncontrolled. The harmony of the domestic circle is often broken by a hasty word and abusive language. How much better were it left unsaid. One smile of pleasure, one peaceful, approving word spoken in the spirit of meekness, would be a power to soothe, to comfort, and to bless. The government of self is the best government in the world. By putting on the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, ninety-nine out of a hundred of the troubles which so terribly embitter life might be saved. Many excuse their hasty words and passionate tempers by saying: “I am sensitive; I have a hasty temper.” This will never heal the wounds made by hasty, passionate words. Some, indeed, are naturally more passionate than others; but this spirit can never harmonize with the Spirit of God. The natural man must die, and the new man, Christ Jesus, take possession of the soul, so that the follower of Jesus may say in verity and truth: “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” 4T 348.3Read in context »
2. God Reads the Secret Devisings—It is for the eternal interest of every one to search his own heart, and to improve every God-given faculty. Let all remember that there is not a motive in the heart of any man that the Lord does not clearly see. The motives of each one are weighed as carefully as if the destiny of the human agent depended upon this one result. We need a connection with divine power, that we may have an increase of clear light and an understanding of how to reason from cause to effect. We need to have the powers of the understanding cultivated, by our being partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Let each one consider carefully the solemn truth, God in heaven is true, and there is not a design, however intricate, nor a motive, however carefully hidden, that He does not clearly understand. He reads the secret devisings of every heart. Men may plan out crooked actions for the future, thinking that God does not understand; but in that great day when the books are opened, and every man is judged by the things written in the books, those actions will appear as they are.... 3BC 1160.2Read in context »
I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. Psalm 39:1. TDG 70.1
My children, watch unto prayer, and become more and more careful in regard to your words and your deportment. “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matthew 26:41). It is poor policy to give the enemy the slightest advantage. My son, be gentlemanly, and you will strengthen your influence over those with whom you work. Never speak unadvisedly. Let your respect for yourself as Christ's representative keep you from giving way to anger. If we respect ourselves by wearing Christ's yoke, we shall increase our influence tenfold. TDG 70.2Read in context »