Jump Start # 2527
James 1:20 “for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
I was watching the President’s State of the Union speech last week. And, as everyone is talking about, at the end, the Speaker of the House ripped her copy of his speech in front of everyone. That sent shockwaves because nothing like that had ever been done. There is a lot of tension and bad feelings between the two and what she did takes us to our thoughts today.
Anger doesn’t put us in a good place with God. And, anger before others is something that people long remember. Children will remember when mom and dad got into a screaming argument. Decades may pass, but the memory remains. People remember when brethren got upset with each other in church. Someone shouted at another. Some left. Doors were slammed. Those impressions stay with a person for a long, long time. People can kiss and make up, and move on with their lives, but deep inside, those dark moments of anger are remembered.
Here are some things to consider:
First, while we may have gotten over things, those around us may not. They picked up on our anger. They heard our words. We may be ok, but those who witnessed the ugliness of the battle may not be ok. They may be ruined. They may be finished with the people we had a problem with. They may never want to go back to that congregation where once there was shouting, ugliness and hatred.
Slow to speak and slow to anger are words that James uses to demonstrate how we are to behave as God’s people. The emotions of anger gets a person saying things that he shouldn’t say. It’s hard to pick up the pieces once you’ve let those words fly out of your mouth. You can say, “I didn’t mean it,” but if that’s true, then why did you say it?
Second, when others see our anger, they often only see our side of the story. There are always two sides. We believe our side is right. But sometimes, it’s not. Those around us only hear our side. Emotions running wild, things being said that shouldn’t be said, accusations being made, it’s easy for someone to be pulled into something that isn’t actually true. We may be at fault. We may be in the wrong. However, our actions and tantrums, can stir up a mob spirit that leads to others saying and doing things to bring about fairness and justice.
Third, for younger eyes and hearts, they are seeing an example, even though it may be a bad example, of what to do when one is upset. Getting all worked up and thinking the worst of others certainly isn’t the direction that God wants us to go. Life can be cruel. People can be mean. Showing others what and how to conduct ourselves is a lesson that may stay with them for a long time. God expects us to be under control. Self control, or the control of self, is one of the virtues that Peter tells us to add to our faith. Out of control—we know what that’s like. An out of control car is spinning around and around like a top. The driver is along for the ride. An out of control temper is just like that. The person is along for the ride. The temper, the emotions, the words, the actions—one has no idea where this will land.
We remember the example of Jesus, when threats were made, He uttered none back. He was silent. There was a time to speak and a time to be silent. And the Lord knew those times.
Fourth, all the good that we believe in and stand for can go out the window when others witness our moments of rage. All the good that has been accomplished seems to be tossed out the window when one loses it emotionally. Our value and our influence goes down rapidly when people see us explode with anger. Outbursts of anger is considered one of the works of the flesh. All it takes is one time, and people will remember. That memory of you losing your cool, will come back to haunt you years later. When men are being considered for leadership roles in the church, and your name is suggested, someone will mention the time you blew up in anger. That memory is all it takes to convince some that you don’t have what it takes to lead the people of God.
Fifth, as our verse tells us, anger doesn’t get us anywhere with God. It’s not righteous. It’s not what God wants. Anger opens the door to the devil. It invites hatred, violence and bitterness to come into our hearts and lives. It ruins our character, shatters our influence and sets a bad example before others. The people of God are to be righteous, even when they are upset. Even when things do not go their way.
Anger before others—that’s something we must put some thought behind. Little eyes see us. Big eyes see us. His eyes see us. The damage done through anger can take a lifetime to get over. Our actions, our words are seen by others. All the good that we preach and all the good that we want done, can be lost because people see us in unkind, angry moments. It makes some wonder if we are hypocrites in those dark moments.
Be angry, the Ephesians were told, but do not sin. That’s the key. Angry without having to apologize later for what was said. Angry but not leaving a trail of destruction. Angry and not leaving the wrong impression or bad example before others.
Angry—others are watching. Remember that.