Genghis Khan lived more than 900 years ago and is still known for his might. He (along with his progeny) ended up ruling the largest empire in history. He was not simply a war-monger, but a strategist as well. Rather than putting family in charge of his army units, he put competent leaders over them. He required his armies to have a complete victory before taking the spoils of the land. He systematically and strategically conquered city after city after city. Khan was a smart, but ruthless leader. He seemed virtually unstoppable. Others have tried to accomplish what Khan had done, but no one has succeeded as Khan succeeded. No one has been as mighty as Genghis Khan.
When Joshua entered into Canaan, one of his first acts was to lead the people into battle against Jericho. The people were to walk around the city once for seven days straight, silent as could be. On the seventh day they were to walk around it seven times, and then the priests were to blow their trumpets, the walls would fall down flat and they were to go straight up and take the city. A mighty work was done that day.
Solomon wrote, “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). While Genghis Khan is no hero, he was mighty. He was the mightiest man of his day. Yet the one who is slow to anger is better than the mighty Khan. How much might, how much power, does it take to control one’s anger? One of the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit is self-control. Thus to control one’s anger in large measure is a mighty work of God–a divine work–working in tandem with our own power, much like God breaking down Jericho’s wall, but only upon the obedience of the priests blowing their trumpets. Thus, self-control takes a massive amount of strength and power.
I recall a time when I was 17 years old and I was in charge of getting the youth group in our church to decorate the church for Christmas. One group put up a Christmas tree in the sanctuary with white lights and gold trimming, while a second group (one in which I was a part), put up a tree with colored lights, ornaments, and tinsel in the fellowship hall. After all was done, the first group came in and apparently started to take the second groups tree apart, playing with the decorations. My older sister saw it and told my dad (the pastor of the church). He walked in, saw the mess and the disrespect that was being done, and said sternly, but calmly and without raising his voice something to the effect of, “I want this put back the way it was, right now.”
I walked in about two minutes later. What I saw stunned me. The first group looked terrified. Some were in tears because they had never seen my dad “so angry.” Yet he never raised his voice. He never spoke unkindly. In the slowness of his anger and the controlling of his spirit, he was a mighty man. A friend once said, “If patience is a virtue, your dad is the most virtuous man I’ve ever met.” I can only hope to be so mighty and virtuous.
That being said, if one thinks about it: an angry man, and one who cannot control his spirit, must be–in contrast–weak. Like a cornered animal that seeks to puff itself up to be seen as mightier than he is, so is the angry man and the man who has no self-control. Let us be better than Khan and mightier than Joshua.