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Unrighteous Anger

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

Anger can shut down communication and break relationships apart. If suppressed, this emotion can turn into resentment, which poisons our thinking and behavior. Unchecked, it can boil over into an explosive expression of rage that hurts not only the intended recipient but others as well.

While we can think of many reasons to justify our anger, the only viewpoint that matters is the Lord’s. The book of Proverbs offers insight into how God views angry people. He says they act foolishly (Prov. 14:17), stir up strife (Prov. 15:18), and commit transgressions (Prov. 29:22). He also warns us not to associate with such individuals (Prov. 22:24). In contrast, those who are slow to anger have great understanding (Prov. 14:29) and demonstrate wisdom (Prov. 29:8, Prov. 29:11). Keeping one’s distance from strife also shows honor (Prov. 20:3).

In the New Testament, the apostle James compared the tongue to a small spark that can set a whole forest on fire (James 3:5-6). He knew the damage a furious person could do. He also wrote that our anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires for us, nor does it fit who we are in Christ. Jesus paid our sin debt with His life in order to set us free from sinful behavior patterns and their repercussions.

There were a few instances when Jesus became angry, but they were fully in line with the Father’s purposes. In us, however, anger is usually born out of self-defense, hurt feelings, or thwarted desires. If the Lord has convicted you of unrighteous anger, confess that sin and allow the Spirit to reproduce Christ’s character in you.

Charles Stanley

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