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Fight Anger with Anger

March 16, 2016 | by: Mike Law | 0 Comments

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Reflections

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In January I offered 16 resolutions for our church in 2016. For those of you who were at the members’ meeting on Sunday, you may recall that I brought these up again in our meeting this past Lord’s Day. In particular, I mentioned resolution #16, that we should resolve to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Why choose this? Why encourage us with this? Because we want to see the righteousness of Christ displayed in our lives for the glory of his name. Consider James 1:19-20,

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

If you take a look at the first chapter of James, for the previous 18 verses James has been reminding his readers of things that they ought to know. He’s reminded them that trials are an opportunity for joy, that they can ask God for wisdom, that the wealth of this world will fade and pass away, and that every good gift, especially the gift of salvation, comes from God. In verse 19, James continues to teach his readers about things he wants them to know, and not just in an intellectual sense. James doesn’t merely want his readers to intellectually know that every Christian ought to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry; rather, James wants his readers to live these things out in their lives.

How often are we slow to hear, quick to speak, and yet quick to become angry? All too often. Here’s the challenge, we can’t blame our sin on others. Our anger is our anger. Difficult circumstances are not the cause of our anger, they’re merely the opportunity for what is already in our hearts to come out. Our children may disobey, our co-workers might sin against us, but if we find ourselves angry with them, what may be happening is that we may have shifted into the mindset that we deserve something we haven’t gotten.

Anger comes from a heart that feels robbed of justice, from a heart that feels (even if it is just for a moment), that it is the supreme authority over all and that we deserve to be honored in a particular way. That is the root of anger. When anger is coming out of your heart and into your behavior and speech, what is coming out is ME. What’s coming out is: “I don’t deserve this. I won’t be treated like this. I won’t have this. This isn’t fair after all that I have done.” Unfortunately, anger will often move into action to enforce the rule of me. Have you ever noticed that? Anger is an emotion, but is often an emotion with a goal.

If you struggle with anger, which, if you live and move and have breath, then I’m pretty sure you struggle with anger, then I want to give you some counsel on how to biblically fight sinful anger. You fight anger with anger, that is, you fight your sinful anger, by remembering that God’s righteous anger was poured out on Christ for your sin. When you are angry and stewing over what you deserve, remember what you really deserve – to face the unending righteous anger of God.

Still, there is a reason that we should be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, and that’s because anger does not produce the righteousness of God. Some translations will translate that phrase the righteousness of God as “the righteousness that God requires” or “the righteous life that God desires.” However you translate it James’ main point is found in that word “produce.” Quite simply, James is saying that anger does not form in us the type of character that God desires of his people. God desires that his people reflect his righteous character, but sinful anger is not that path for God’s people. So, may God give us the grace not simply to resolve to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, may he give us the grace to remember what we really deserve and what we’ve really been given – grace through Jesus Christ.

Warmly in Christ,
Mike

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