My dear 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. – James 1:19-20 (NIV)
There is a lot of anger being thrown around today. We see it on our TV screens, we hear it on our radios, we read it in magazines and papers and it seeps into our hearts and minds. In Christian circles we have made excuses that our anger is “righteous,” but it is just that; an excuse. Anger makes us feel powerful; it makes us feel like we are in the right. When we look at the world and others through the lens of wrath, we see too much of what proves our point and are blind to most everything else.
Righteousness is rooted in not getting angry. While James may not have had this in mind, it is clear that the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) are remedies to the angry heart and mind. If we are day by day allowing the Spirit to do His work in our lives, the fruit will be righteous. James tells us three things that helps put us in the Spirit’s hands: listen, be quiet and get a longer fuse. Good advice, but hard to follow in our angry world.
If we want to avoid the anger James is warning us about, we need a quiet place, a quiet heart & mind and a humble attitude. Our days are full of noise and busyness, which can shorten our fuse. If we can find that quiet place, even if it is a closet in our room, it can provide the opportunity to listen for God’s voice. However, the quiet place has to be matched with a quiet heart and mind. It does no good if we spend all of our time in a quiet place making noise about our life and our wants. There is a real need of being still before God. Each day we need to let the quietness of that place sink into our hearts and minds to drive out the angry noise of the world. But that is still just a beginning.
Anger is too easily motivated by pride. To be slow to anger is to be humble. When we consider the needs of others, the hurts and pains that may be at the center of their life, we will have a different attitude toward them. Instead of anger, we may find compassion, love, mercy and grace. Humility is the last place that anger tries to find a home. Humility is the open door for the Spirit to bear fruit in our lives.
Where is your quiet place? When was the last time you felt silence and calm in your heart and mind? How long have you held anger toward someone who may need your love and kindness? Let’s work together to come against the anger of our world with the fruit of the Spirit and the humility of Christ.