“You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” vss. 19-20
The letter of James was written to congregations of early Christians who had an appreciation for Judaism and provides a different perspective from that of Paul. The writer begins his words of guidance with three basic principles for life in Christ. “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, (and) slow to anger.” Wow! It’s hard to think of any more sage, or obvious, advice for getting along with family and friends. Most will readily agree with James, but we have a devil of a time following through. And it’s the third element in what he says that has become most problematic. We know that listening is more important than speaking in communication, and it’s right to put an emphasis on it. But these last years have seen a real uptick in anger expression. Everywhere we look we see angry people! Over and over again we see scenes of shouting, enraged crowds demanding one thing or another. Our politicians are loud, angry, and arrogant, and it’s all filtered down into our exchanges with family and friends. We can’t even talk about the pandemic without getting angry! And what James says is true. Anger never produces God’s righteousness! Instead it feeds on itself, escalates, and ultimately results in alienation or estrangement. When we feel anger coming on, the best thing we can do is go back to listening–and continue the argument with our mouths shut!
Thought for the Day: How has anger impacted my life?