“The Citadel of The Spirit!” Galatians 4: 1-16 Key verse(s): 16 “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth.”
There’s an old proverb that simply states, “Anger begins with folly, and ends with repentance.” I can remember many times in my life when, confronted by someone’s correction, I felt the sting of anger probing the recesses of my heart. Within moments that probe had become a hot poker, piercing the secret stores of pride I had hidden within my heart. When prodded, pride explodes like an unchained dog, lashing out and savaging anyone foolish enough to cross its path. A chained animal is often a foolish beast, not discerning friend from foe, or aggression from kindness. So it is with our anger when motivated by pride. We strike back without thought of what harm we might do. We lash out without discernment and consideration for friend, even a loved one or a spouse.
Clarence Macartney relates a classic story of how anger can come between friends when pride makes us foolish: “Alexander the Great was one of the few men of history who deserved the adjective ‘great.’ His biographer describes him as by nature fervently passionate and impulsive. He was strong in his loves and his loyalties; and, although hatred was foreign to his magnanimous nature, he was often swept by storms of anger. Yet by a magnificent display of will power he held the reins upon is passions. In the midst of the sensuous temptations of the Asiatic courts, where his army passed in conquest, he seems to have held himself in complete mastery and kept himself unspotted from the world.
But to this long chapter of nobel self-control there is one sad and tragic exception. At a banquet given for Dionysus a song was sung comparing Alexander with Castor and Pollux, to his advantage. Then someone disparaged the old Macedonian officers who had fought under Alexander’s father, Philip. This aroused one of Alexander’s generals, Clitus, who commanded the famous Hetairoi. Clitus reminded Alexander how he had saved his life in one of the recent battles, and with the blood of the Macedonian officers. He told Alexander not to associate with boot-licking Persians, who bowed the knee to him and told him only what he wanted to hear. Alexander, stung by this remark of Clitus, reached for his sword, which a discreet officer had hidden away. Then in his anger, falling--as men always do at such a time--into his native idiom, the Macedonian, he ordered the trumpeter to sound the call, and when he delayed, smote him with his fist.
Before he could inflict hurt upon Clitus, the friends of that half-intoxicated officer hurried him out of the banqueting hall. But he soon entered by another door, where he stood under the curtains quoting lines from a Greek poet to the disparagement of Alexander’s conquests. ‘Quick as a flash, Alexander snatched a spear from the hand of the guard and hurled it at the figure beneath the curtain. The deed was done. The friend of his childhood, his life’s companion and rescuer, lay gasping out his life.’
The passion of remorse followed quickly upon the fury of his anger. Alexander himself drew out the fatal spear, and but for his officers he would have fallen upon it himself. All through the night, and for several days, he lay writhing in his remorse, piteously calling Clitus by name and chiding himself as the murderer of his friend. Alexander the Great conquered the world, but he could not conquer himself. In his conquests he stormed and took almost every great city of the ancient world. Yet he was not able to subdue that more important city, to conquer that which is is the greatest of all achievements--the city and citadel of his own spirit.” (Macartney’s Illustrations, pg. 20)
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