19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20 NIV)
We read, see, and hear about the results of anger on a daily basis. Most often there are tears, severed relationships, and sometimes even death involved as a consequence of the results of anger left unchecked. Anger produces many things. Like a spark ignites a fire that brings about the destruction of a home or a forest, so anger ignites fires of bitterness, rage, hostility, and animosity that destroys relationships and even lives.
James says that there is one thing that anger will never produce–the righteous life that God desires for me. The Greek word for “righteous” literally means, “right relationships.” Anger doesn’t foster friendships. Anger has never “covered over a multitude of sins.” Anger doesn’t knit hearts together as one.
Anger is a common emotion experienced by all people. A person who says they have never been angry is a person I would never believe. It is what we do when we become angry that is crucial for the followers of Jesus. Paul wrote, “In your anger do not sin:” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV)
If experiencing “right relationships” with God and those around me is a high priority for me, then I am going to have to deal with my anger as soon as I sense it building. How can I throw cold water on the building fires of anger? It is quite simple really. I need to be quick to listen to God’s Word that calls me to deal with my anger with urgency. I need to be slow to speak words that will hurt, harm, and even destroy. And I need to remember the many times God has loved, forgiven, and restored me rather than raging in wrathful anger over my sinful ways?
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will help me to seek right relationships above all else. Let me grow in grace for others so that I might become increasingly slow in becoming angry.