“My dear [sisters], 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).
Convicting isn’t it? It sure is for me.
Over the past few weeks, this verse has been at the forefront of my mind and constantly tugging at my heart. Sometimes I remember before my short-temper ignites, and other times, it’s only after I’ve given in to my frustrations that the Holy Spirit gently reminds me that irritability is not the answer.
I wish I could say that I’ve mastered the art of dealing with frustrations, but I haven’t.
I wish I could say that I am never angry, but there are times when I am.
I wish I could say that irritability never overtakes me, but that would be a flat out lie.
I wish I could say that my first reaction is to listen and not to speak, but this mouth flies open and this tongue lashes out each time my emotions rev up — my assumptions firing the engine.
Can any of you relate?
It may be that certain circumstances contribute to our exasperation. It could just be one of “those days.” Or maybe you’re nine months pregnant and just simply exhausted, all the time (ahem!). Maybe it’s a situation at work or a tough relationship in your home.
It could even be that you have every right to be angry,
even when we feel justified in our anger, God’s Word reminds us that our anger does not bring about the righteous life that He desires for us. Anger is not the answer.
So what can we do? How do we deal with the frustrations that confront us or those moments when it would be so easy to allow anger to overtake us?
What, my dear sisters, can save us?
Right after James’ warning, he urges us to “get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:21).
If we are to fight this battle against our tempers, we must do two things:
- Put off
- Put in
The first thing James admonishes us to do is to “get rid of all of the filth and evil in our lives” (James 1:21 NLT). Like taking off dirty, grimy clothes, we are to take off our filthy attitudes and actions.
One commentary I read put it this way:
“An uncontrolled tongue and temper drive a man deep into sin and far from God. Therefore, a spiritual housecleaning is needed so that God’s Word, whether in written or spoken form, can enter man’s life…” (Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. Vol 14: New Testament commentary: Exposition of James and the Epistles of John. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House).
“The soil of the heart must be prepared to receive the Word. If we have unconfessed sin in our hearts, and bitterness against God because of our trials, then we cannot receive the Word and be blessed by it” (Wiersbe, W. W. Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton, IL.: Victor Books).
Paul wrote it another way in his letter to the Believers in Ephesus. He said:
“Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NLT).
James reminds us that fighting this battle against anger is more than just putting off; it is also putting in. We are to humbly accept the word planted in us which can save us!
The Word can save us!
The Greek word translated as “word” in this verse is logos, the same word used in John 1:1 — the Word of God being Jesus Christ!
Do you think that you don’t have power to fight your temper or to calm your anger? You are right. You don’t have the power to do it, but Christ living in you does. The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the grave is the same power that is at work in us who believe! Christ in you can save you from the power of anger!
But we can take this even one step farther. “Word” here can also mean the written word of God.
It is through the Bible, the written word of God, that our minds are renewed and our thoughts and attitudes changed. We need to be filling our hearts and minds with Scripture, holding fast to Truth when temptation rises.
Read it, think about it, memorize it, and claim it! Sisters, there is power in the living and active word of God! We cannot live without it!
“I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. I run the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” (Psalm 119:31-32).
Do you want to run in freedom? Hold fast to the Word which can save you!
Question for You:
What Scripture verses have helped you renew your mind and fight the battle against anger and frustration in your own life?
Resources for You:
- Addressing Anger Journal
- Good and Angry
- Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses
- Anger: Taming a Powerful Emotion