Slow to Anger

Know this, my beloved brothers; let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. - James 1:19-20

From cable news networks to Facebook to our personal relationships, we often practice this in reverse, don’t we?

Our culture says: be quick to anger, quick to speak, and painfully slow to hear.

The thing is, our hearts are naturally – sinfully – interested in self-preservation. When we’re chasing dreams and idols apart from our Creator’s plans for us, and especially when our worth and identity is tied up in these dreams and idols, anything that interferes with them becomes a personal attack. This need to self-preserve often causes us to respond quickly in anger.

And while James says that our anger does not produce the righteousness of God (and we read elsewhere that our anger gives the devil a foothold, that anger resides in the lap of fools, that it leads to evil…the list goes on and on.), he does offer an alternative to our self-destructive anger:

“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

God offers us a way out. He throws us a life raft. He gives us an opening for His healing and restoration!

When we turn from the sin that occupies our hearts – the idols, the affirmation we crave that isn’t rooted in Him, the dreams we’ve planned apart from Him – we need only to have teachable hearts that humbly receive truth that has already been printed on our soul and be ready to submit to it. God Himself does the heavy lifting! His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Not only do we have the Word, full of grace of truth, but we have Jesus, the Word in the flesh, dwelling with us. We don’t have to self-preserve! We don’t have to defend ourselves! He did everything that needed to be done on the cross. Just receive.

Father, may we people who rest in the finished work of the cross and allow the implanted Word to grow and flourish within us. May we drop our idols and our need for affirmation from people around us and instead look to You to define us. May we seek to self-surrender instead of self-preserve. May we be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, as our hearts continue to be transformed by Your grace. And in our graciousness and patience, may we be salt and light in our city and world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.