My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20)
Recently I had to renew my license in person at the DMV. While I was waiting, a gentleman got his turn at the supervisors help desk. He was aggrieved. Somehow DMV had lost the title to his car. Gradually, he grew enraged as they could give him no satisfaction. “It’s a 65-thousand-dollar car and you lost the title!”, he bellowed.
“Sir, do not raise your voice.” He wouldn’t calm down.
The supervisor summoned the police (who always have an officer on duty at DMV — for moments like this!) “Sir, you’ll have to leave the building.” The police escorted him out.
It sure is easy to feel anger when things screw up. Stuff does not work the way it is supposed to. Things get lost. It sure is easy to want to blame someone. Directing the rage towards the nearest target — the supervisor at her desk…. even if she was doing the absolute best job she that she could.
If only a raised voice could make what we need and want come true. But, that’s not gonna happen. After seeing the DMV incident, I must admit I can still feel unrighteous anger. (I can’t pat myself on the back if I keep it inside more than the Yeller at DMV did).
So, today’s scripture provides a wonderful antidote to wanting my will to be done now and feeling furious if that does not happen. To be slow to get enraged, and fast to listen, shows patience that is a spiritual gift from God. It’s part of us getting a new heart. I note 3 truths about progress in my battle with anger:
- When I do get wrongfully angry, I repent of it more quickly than I used to.
- Fewer things that used to get me angry get me angry any more.
- The work is not complete yet.
So, Jesus doesn’t give us anger management, but instead, anger replacement: over time Jesus replaces our rage with more of him.