Slow to Wrath Jas. 1:19 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
There are three things you need to be slow to do. You must be slow to anger, slow to speak and slow to wrath. We are going to study each of these today since more Christians are troubled by these three things than you may know. To be slow to wrath you need to be:
Slow to Anger – Prov 16:32 – Webster’s New World dictionary defines anger as a feeling of displeasure resulting from injury, mistreatment, opposition, etc., and usually showing itself in a desire to fight back at the supposed cause of this feeling. There are a lot of things in life that cause us displeasure. Anger responds to these feelings of displeasure by fighting back at the “supposed” cause of these feelings. In other words, anger has four components.
First, there is an injury, mistreatment, or opposition, then there is the feeling of displeasure that arises from the injury, then there is the desire to fight back that arises from this feeling and then there is the fight against the “supposed” cause of the feeling. I put “supposed” in quotation marks because often the thing you fight against is not the actual cause of the feeling but rather the convenient target for the feeling.
Breaking down anger into these four facets helps us to see how we can become slow to anger.
- The injury, mistreatment or opposition – there is very little you can do about the things that “hurt” you unless you are the type of person who sets yourself up to be hurt. In other words, in life you are going to be injured, mistreated and maligned. These things are just a part of life. You can protect yourself to some degree by avoiding people and situations that are repeatedly painful or by preparing yourself emotionally before entering a typical situation in which you get angry. For instance, if someone you know routinely injures or mistreats you, avoid them and learn to protect yourself with good boundaries. Don’t be a “doormat.” And if you are entering a particularly stressful situation, where you are prone to get angry [like driving in traffic], emotionally prepare yourself beforehand so that you aren’t already anxious, tense and ready for a fight.
- The feeling of displeasure that arises from the injury – different people react differently to things that happen to them. In an identical situation, one person might laugh it off, another might have no reaction at all and a third person might be very displeased. To a great degree, this has a lot to do with how we are “wired.” Some of us have longer “fuses” than others. But our feeling of displeasure might also be due to the fact that we are already sitting on a keg of gunpowder waiting for the least little thing to make us blow. And if that’s your case, this is something that you must control. Empty your powder keg and be filled, instead, with the Spirit of God. Search the word “Anger” on our website to find helpful ways to diffuse your anger.
- The desire to fight back – this is where the real work in being slow to anger comes in. When you begin to feel displeasure at a mistreatment, you typically fight against the person or thing that caused the displeasure. Take that option off the table. Remember one of the great characteristics of the Lord is that he is slow to anger [Neh 9:17; Ps 103:8, 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jon 4:2; Nah 1:3]. And the Lord resides inside of you. If you will yield to him at the very moment that you begin to feel the displeasure, he can strengthen you so that you don’t fight back. Furthermore, if the feeling of displeasure is coming from another person, you can simply tell them, “I am beginning to get mad,” thereby diffusing the situation before it gets out of hand.
- The “supposed” cause of this feeling of displeasure – the trouble with anger is that it looks for a target. Often the target is not the cause of the feeling of displeasure but rather a person that you love and trust against whom you can fight without disclosing your true source of displeasure. For instance, if you are stressed by fear but you don’t want to disclose your fear or the source of your fear, then the displeasure you feel from the fear will be expressed in a fight against someone else or something else. The same is true when you feel displeasure toward someone you are afraid to confront. You’ll take it out on someone else you are not afraid to confront. Be very careful here and be very honest with yourself. You aren’t addressing the “cause” of your displeasure.
Slow to Speak – Jas 1:19 – this is an admonition to put a really good filter on your mouth. Just because some anger wells up inside of you doesn’t mean that you need to spew it out on others. Usually, if you can settle down for about 20 minutes, you can diffuse any wickedness that was ready to come out of your mouth. It may very well be that you need to confront and rebuke a person. But you don’t want to do that when you’re mad and prone to say things that you will later regret. Slow down and calm down. Pray. In addition, follow the admonition to be swift to hear. You need to listen carefully and thoroughly to what others are saying. Often we are so ready to reply with our emotional response that we are not listening to what is being said. If you will listen carefully, you will know exactly how to respond. And remember this. If you are emotional, you are liable to say something you will regret. Seek counsel from someone you trust who can be more objective. He or she can save you lots of shame and guilt.
Slow to Wrath – Jas 1:19; Prov 14:29 – Webster’s New World dictionary defines wrath as: 1 intense anger; rage; fury; 2 any action carried out in great anger, esp. for punishment or vengeance. So, wrath is stronger than anger. It is a rage and fury. Some of us who have dealt with intense anger know what it is to go from 0-60 in a split second. We have gone from the feeling of displeasure to destructive behavior in a flash. We have not been slow to wrath. This wrath is not only harmful to others but it is also harmful to you [Jas 1:20]. The Lord shows us how to deal with wrath in Eph 4:30-32. The Lord says that it needs to be put away from you. This is possible through the Spirit of God [Eph 4:30] and through forgiveness, kindness and tenderheartedness [Eph 4:32]. It is important to remember that the Lord said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” [Rom 12:19]. We are never in a position where our wrath is justified. You must let it go and let God give you the grace to let him handle it the way he desires and when he deems it necessary, if ever.
Conclusion: angry people like to quote Eph 4:26 to excuse their regular loss of temper. But the operative word in Eph 4:26 is sin. And the trouble with most people is that they don’t call it sin when they are angry; only when others are. That’s hypocrisy. You just need to cut anger out!!