The Not So Pretty Side of Anger


James 1:19-20
“My brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

Anger. It has many faces. It may present as violent or passive. It may be directed inward or outward. We may or may not be aware of the influence of anger in our daily lives. But we’ve all experienced it. 

And we’ve all expressed it.

Why are we angry? Because we don’t have something we want. Or we do have something we don’t want! 

Anger can be a help or a hindrance to a righteous life. “Good anger” can help by motivating us to change something or to stand up for another.

But it can be a hindrance when we hold our anger against another, and use our anger to manipulate others.

Jesus Himself experienced anger…the good kind; the kind that brings about Godly character…His was a righteous anger, seeking to bring others into a right relationship with God and neighbor.

Until I read this passage again recently, the truth of it had never really dawned on me….

“…for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires”.
James 1:20b

Wow. When we really think about it, what is our anger meant to accomplish? Control over situations or people? How useless!

How much better would it be if we realized that what we really want for ourselves and for others is “the righteous life that God desires”.

As a spouse, a parent, an employee, a friend, a believer…am I letting anger be the hallmark characteristic of my life? I hope not!

But what can I do if I suspect that anger plays a bigger role in my life than it ought?

I ask God to identify it in me, and confess it as sin.

Since anger can be difficult to identify in ourselves, maybe we can also ask ourselves if we are acting in the opposite way of James’ teaching…are we slow to hear and quick to speak? (Gilbert, Greg, “James A 12 Week Study”, pg. 29)

Being slow to hear and quick to speak can get us in a whole lot of trouble! These are the characteristics of an immature believer, and if we are serious about living a life of Christian faith, we must be willing to adjust these behaviors.

Let us be wise and truthful about our habits, and rely on the power of God to help us to be mature believers who bless others with our words.

1 John 1:9 instructs us that “…If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 

Trust in the God who promises to forgive and cleanse us, and be a partner with Him in bringing His Kingdom to this earth…a place where “the righteous life that God desires” is brought about in everyone, and where “righteousness and peace kiss each other” (Psalm 85:10).

Amen, let it be so.

Confessing in the Round,