Resolved never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.
This one set me back a little at first; “irrational beings”?
When I thought on it a bit longer what I think he was getting at, or at least my interpretation of it based on my own understanding, is that we are quick to apply one set of values, standards, and expectations on someone or some thing which may not even hold to those values/perspectives/etc. in the first place.
That may have been a bit more vague than I intended, so allow me to explain.
The way I think about this for myself is the types of expectations I put on myself based on my beliefs. I don’t really drink–not because it’s evil or immoral, but because I don’t see it ever being fruitful for me–but it would be out of line for me to impose that mentality on others. I have friends who drink, and friends who get drunk. I don’t always agree with it, but I don’t think I should be surprised. Why should they not drink? If it’s in line with their worldview then it only makes sense that they think this way and do those things.
More generally applied, I think we–as Christians–have a tendency to mentally project our convictions onto others who don’t even believe the same things we do. We expect the world to not be having sex outside of marriage, hold the same views as we do in regards to abortion and marriage, and yet we often do not pause to think about it. Why should they act the same? We have a paradigm shifting set of beliefs that changes everything about us.. and yet we get bothered when others aren’t conforming to that.. others who don’t even have personal reasons to conform to it in the first place.
Now don’t hear me wrong.. it’s important for us to notice these differences and know, each for ourselves, why we do or do not do the things we do, and why others around us may do and believe in certain things. Additionally, we are to “always [be] prepared to give a defense” (1 Pet. 3:15) as to why we believe the things we do or live the way we do. This means being face to face with others who don’t believe the things we believe, but loving them all the while.
Understand that the actions of those apart from Christ should not necessarily provoke us to anger–because we can’t expect them to want to act differently if the rest of the world constantly says it’s OK–but it should stir up in us a grief. It should fill our hearts with a longing to show them that God has provided something something better to be experienced (see Hebrews 11:40).
So at the end of the day, do not let the patterns of this world provoke you to anger, but use it as an opportunity to pray to God to open channels of communication–through relationship building–to share the Gospel. May these instances not turn us to anger, but help us “abound in hope” (Roman 15:13).