Fatal Distractions: Quickly Tempered

small angry man

 

Often times when I think about anger it is because someone has been angry towards me. Whether or not I did anything to upset them, there are always people around with short tempers. And when I hear teaching on anger, my mind is so quick to recall the people I wish were there to hear that message.

After all, I do everything you are “supposed” to do to avoid getting mad at someone. I try to stay away from people I’m upset with for a while, or I count to ten to keep myself from saying something mean. I normally don’t talk back, and I rarely have outbursts of anger.

But then one day I was reading what the word of God had to say about anger, and something else happened. I felt conviction. I realized that all my attempts were really just keeping the anger inside. My mouth stayed shut, but my heart was angry.

Anger

Regardless of how anger is presented, God is concerned with both our outward actions and our hearts. So let’s take a look at one of those passages on anger:

James 1:19-21 (NASB)

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

What does verse 19 say that everyone must do?

—Be quick to hear and slow to speak or be angry.

What does verse 20 say about anger?

—The anger of man does not produce righteousness.

What kind of deeds are being done if they are not the righteousness of God? Does verse 21 give any more insight into this?

—Actions which are not the righteousness of God are the wickedness of man.

Sometimes it’s hard to think of anger as wickedness, as sin. I like to think it’s a personality thing that I monitor to keep at safe, and supposedly righteous, levels. But all sin is characteristic to us—it is in the nature of our flesh—and it needs to be removed and replaced.

As a Christian, do you ever feel like there is evil remaining in your life? That your flesh still seems to have power? I know I do. That is why this passage is addressed to brethren, believers.

What does this passage have to say about removing wickedness?

—Verse 21 charges Christians to put away filthiness and the remains of wickedness and to receive the word humbly.

Why does this passage challenge a Christian to be saved?

—This reference to saving your soul is not referring to justification but rather to sanctification. Blue Letter Bible defines the soul as, “the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions.” Receiving the word in humility makes us more like Christ.

According to Blue Letter Bible the word “implanted” in verse 21 means, “inborn, implanted by nature, implanted by others instruction.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary includes definitions such as, “to fix or set securely or deeply, to set permanently in the consciousness or habit patterns.”

Scripture is meant to be learned and set permanently in our minds and hearts. And when we are instructed in the word or by the word, we are to receive it with humility. When the Bible convicts me of my anger, I can choose to receive that correction with humility, because that is how I will be freed from my anger.

anger 2

What this means is that removing anger isn’t about being better. The fact of the matter is no matter how much we try to do on our own, our righteousness isn’t enough. We will keep returning to that remnant of wickedness, that sinful desire.

The only way not to be angry is to humbly receive the word. Receiving the word leads to salvation of our souls, and this leads to the removing of the filthiness and remaining wickedness.

I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to become a person of the word. If you don’t have a place to start, start in the book of James. These passages of Scripture reveal the true nature of hearts, and the words of the Lord are what will make us able to put aside anger.

Elizabeth

 

Fatal Distractions

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