My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)
On Monday we began a three-part series of articles about three keys to kingdom living. I’ve said that these articles are not meant to encourage us to live a self-controlled life, but more specifically a “Savior-controlled” life. Part One presented the first key to kingdom living: being “quick to listen.” Part Two highlighted the second key to kingdom living: being “slow to speak.” Today we will conclude with a discussion of the third key: being “slow to become angry.”
KEY # 3 – Be slow to become angry!
To be sure, this third key flows out of the first two. When we are quick to listen and slow to speak, we will be slow to become angry, and that is a good thing . . . a very good thing indeed! Christian counselors report that more than half of their clients seek help with their inability to control their anger. This further confirms the truth of how poorly we are at being both quick to listen and slow to speak. Scripture often reminds us of the virtue of being slow to become angry:
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)
Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. (Proverbs 16:32)
To be sure, there is a righteous anger, and we are right to express it. The challenge is that we are so broken, we often believe we are expressing righteous anger when in fact we are simply sinning with our man-centered anger. This is most often the case when we lash out at those who have differing opinions from us. Angry outbursts do nothing to advance our position and most often leave hurting hearts and seared souls in their wake. In addition, our inappropriate anger hinders us from hearing God’s leading.
In closing out this week, let me ask you one last time: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your ability to be slow to become angry? How would those closest to you rate you? The three keys to kingdom living—being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry—are the keys that unlock the door leading to living the Savior-controlled life God is calling us to live. And that makes all the difference in the world!
Think about it this way: most of our conflicts and unhappiness would dissolve and disappear if we would surrender control of our lives to our Savior and consciously practice being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!