Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Book of James Part 6: Slow to Wrath


James Part 6 Slow to Wrath

Previous messages by Rev. B. A. Shields found here


Book of James

Part 6: Slow to Wrath

By Rev. Bruce A. Shields



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1.      Introduction to the Book of James

2.     Trials and Temptation

3.     Gaining Wisdom

4.     Poverty & Wealth

5.     Dealing with Temptation

6.     Slow to Anger




Today is Sunday. June 23rd, 2024

          We took a break from the series last week for a special Father’s Day service, and we are now returning to our series on the Book of James.


          An important thing to remember as we look at the Book of James is that in the first few messages in this series, we wanted to remind ourselves to stay locked in on the context of what we are reading. It is crucial in the Book of James because of the style and content of the book. Considering the amount of instruction and topics, we must keep everything we read in its intended context to understand the meaning.


          Remember, Satan quoted scripture word for word to Jesus in the wilderness; however, it was out of context. That is how successful cults operate. Cults quote the scripture perfectly but out of context and manipulate its meaning as a means of supporting false doctrine or controlling members.


          Today, we are looking at James 1:19-20, in which believers are instructed to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. In context, Paul is speaking to believers regarding our reception of the Word of God.


          Before these verses, James 1:18 “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.”


          After these verses, James 1:21 “Therefore, laying aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in gentleness receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”


          So, the instruction we will address today is sandwiched between us being a kind of first fruit among God’s creation by the Word of Truth and us receiving the “implanted word” in gentleness.


          In context, James 1:19-20 is about believers receiving the Word of God.


James 1:19-20

“Know this, my beloved brothers. {But} everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”


          We read three instructions to believers. Swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. In the big picture, this letter is about times of trial, opening with trials and temptations, gaining wisdom to handle tribulation, the temptations of poverty and wealth, and how believers are to deal with temptations.


          These qualities of swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger must, therefore, be needed in times of trial. We must humbly and calmly be receptive to what the Word of God says.


          Verse 20 emphasizes slow to anger by stating, “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”


          Too often, we excuse anger as “righteous anger,” however, anger is not righteous just because you are the one angry. Nor is it righteous just because you are offended, hurt, or sinned against.


          Righteous anger reacts against actual sin. This means that what provokes godly anger is sin, as defined or described in the Bible. Merely having our desires or preferences crossed does not qualify as a sin. We do not get to use our personal wishes and predispositions as the standards for what is right and wrong.


          Righteous anger doesn’t blast others in the comment section, especially fellow brothers and sisters of Christ, especially over a non-essential doctrine (such as what type of worship style a church should play). It doesn’t cause division or hurt someone, even unintentionally, to prove you are right.


          It’s very easy for anger to become unrighteous. Although anger in itself isn’t a sin, acting upon it, in many circumstances, can be. We are told in Verse 20, “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”


          So, if we are genuinely seeking the righteousness of God, we need to avoid acting on our anger. In all reality, there are probably very few who could qualify their anger as righteous.


          In the context of James, anger in times of trial and tribulation will not achieve the righteousness of God.


I.            ANGER

a.   Defined

                                  i.    Two Greek words are used in conjunction for anger and wrath.

                                ii.    Anger is a strong ‘feeling’ of annoyance, displeasure or hostility

1.    Often, a lingering, seething emotion

                              iii.    Wrath is a sudden outburst of passionate anger.

1.    A blaze of temper that flares into violent words and deeds and just as quickly dies.

2.   Perhaps some call it “blowing off steam.”


b.   Old Testament Wisdom about Anger

                                  i.    Psalm 37:8 “Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.”

                                ii.    There are many verses about anger in proverbs as well.

1.    “A quick-tempered man acts in folly,” Proverbs 14:17

2.   “He who is slow to anger has great discernment, But he who is quick-tempered raises up folly.” Proverbs 14:29

a.   If you have great discernment, you are slow to anger and not quick-tempered.

3.   “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger quiets a dispute.” Proverbs 15:18

a.   Do you add fuel to the fire, or do you calm disputes?

4.   “A man of great wrath will bear the penalty, For if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.” Proverbs 19:19

5.   “Do not befriend a man of anger; And do not come along with a man of great wrath, 25 Lest you learn his ways And take on a snare against your soul.” Proverbs 22:24-25


                              iii.    According to Proverbs 22, anger is contagious, and so is wrath. What is a snare against your soul? Sin.

                               iv.    If you are in an angry, wrathful environment, you may become ensnared and caught up in it.

1.    This is why when I was young, the area I lived in, my abusive stepfather in the home, and the school where I attended ensnared me with anger and wrath.

2.   Kids growing up in a loving, kind, and slow-tempered home will also learn this behavior.

a.   Remember, we teach and live as examples. Whether good or bad, it is our choice.

c.    New Testament Teaching Against Anger

                                  i.    To the believers in Rome, Paul wrote, “never taking your own revenge, beloved—instead leave room for the wrath of God. For it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

1.    Paul also lists those things as “works of the flesh,” in Galatians 5:19-21


                                ii.    To the Ephesians, Paul wrote, “Let all bitterness and anger and wrath and shouting and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Ephesians 4:31

                              iii.    To the Colossians, Paul wrote, “But now you also, lay them all aside: wrath, anger, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.” Colossians 3:8


d.   The Place for Righteous Anger

                                  i.    Paul does say there is a place for anger.

1.    “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Ephesians 4:26-27

2.   We know Jesus expressed righteous anger towards the money changers (John 2:13-17) as well as the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:13-36)

a.   “Woe to you,” eight times in these verses.


                                ii.    In both the Old and New Testaments, we see God presented as a God of love and a God of anger.

1.    The Old Testament

a.   Psalm 78:49-51; Psalm 78:58-61

b.   Isaiah 5:25

2.   The New Testament

a.   Romans 1:18

b.   Romans 2:4-11


So, how do we reconcile those passages that demand that anger and wrath are folly and something to be put away with those that speak of anger on the part of God, Christ, and even the Christian?


A closer look may help provide the answer.


a.   The Anger of God

                                  i.    God’s anger is ALWAYS A JUST REACTION TO EVIL

1.    As pointed out in Romans 1:18-2:11

2.   Being Divine, and all-knowing, His wrath is NEVER MISGUIDED

3.   He is, therefore, capable of properly directing anger and wrath


                                ii.    A man with imperfections is NOT CAPABLE of this!

1.    Man’s anger is often misguided (through ignorance, misunderstanding, etc.)

2.   Haven't we ever been angry about something, later regretting it when we realized we were in error?

a.   Therefore, just because God may display wrath and anger, this does not necessarily justify man doing so!


b.   The Anger of Christ

                                  i.    What has already been said of God could also be said of Christ.

                                ii.    Especially in light of His ability to read the hearts of men - John 2:24-25

1.    With such divine knowledge, He could not mistakenly direct wrath and anger.

Also, in the examples of His anger...There is nothing of self-interest

                              iii.    Only HOLY ANGER against unrighteousness, which is abhorrent to God

                               iv.    He was angry, but only for God's honor!

1.    When personally abused, He said nothing – 1 Peter 2:21-23

                                 v.    But when it was against God, He displayed "righteous anger."

                               vi.    Again, a man with his imperfections often uses anger improperly.

 For example...

                             vii.    We remain silent when sin is exalted, and GOD is dishonored

1.    But then we get angry when someone offends US personally!


Too often, what we justify as "righteous indignation" is actually "SELF-righteous indignation"!


c.    The Anger in Ephesians

                                  i.    Whatever our interpretation, it needs to be in harmony with the context

                                ii.    Especially with what Paul writes just a few verses later: “Let all bitterness and anger and wrath and shouting and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)

                              iii.    I understand this passage, rather than justifying anger, to be directing us how to deal with it when it arises in our heart:

1.    First, "DO NOT SIN"

a.   The emotion must be CONTROLLED

                                                                                  i.    Self-Control is a Fruit of the Spirit

b.   Don't allow it to manifest itself in a sinful way

                                                                                  i.    Again, the Holy Spirit gives us strength to behave correctly and keep us from sinning, such as saying or doing something wrong



a.   The emotion must be CORRECTED BEFORE NIGHTFALL

b.   Otherwise, we may be giving Satan ample opportunity to tempt us to sin.


Ephesians 4:26-27 “Let all bitterness and anger and wrath and shouting and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

                               iv.    Given what Paul says in Ephesians 4:26 and then later in Ephesians 4:31, it seems highly unlikely that he justifies anger and wrath, and neither should we.



Concerning the subject of anger and wrath, we would do well to take the scriptures in James to heart and to be "slow to wrath."


          For though the "wrath of God" may on occasions accomplish the "righteousness of God, it is clearly stated that the "wrath of man" does not: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:20)


          Following the example of Christ, there may be a place for anger, but if so, ONLY in things pertaining to the honor and will of God!


    In all other things, we would do well to remember:


“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may give them repentance leading to the full knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2: 24-26


Therefore, James 1:19

“Know this, my beloved brothers. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;”


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