One of my monthly resolutions this month is to focus my Bible reading on the topics of patience, kindness, and anger. The other night I was reading James 1:19-21. It says this,
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, 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.
Lately I have definitely not been reacting in a “slow to anger” manner. My actions have been the opposite of that. I cannot tell you how many times I have read these verses in my life, and I have always thought, “those are great verses to live by”, but they have never resonated with me the way they did the other night.
James says that human anger does not produce righteousness. So what does that mean exactly? Well, let’s think about that…think about your most recent burst of anger. Was it righteous? Was it good? Was it morally right or virtuous? I know mine wasn’t. My last big fit of anger was at a parent at the school I work at, and I know without a doubt that my anger towards that person was far from righteous. It’s source was my pride. I got angry because they questioned my ability to perform my job effectively.
God does not desire anger and pride from me. He desires righteousness from me – from all of us.
In verse 21, James tells his audience to get rid of all moral filth and evil. When I read this the other night, that word “filth” really intrigued me. That word has a distinct negative connotation. My anger is filth. It is dirty, rotten, foul, and disgusting. I wouldn’t want to carry around garbage with me everywhere I go, so why do I carry around anger like it doesn’t matter?
My anger poses serious consequences. It affects the way that I relate to those around me. It affects the way that people view me, which should be as a Christian who stands apart from this world. It affects my relationship with God. So rather than continue to allow anger to creep up in my life, I need to do as James says and “humbly accept the word planted” in me.
God has given us His word and the Spirit to help us get rid of the filth that is in our hearts. So let’s us those resources.