Good morning friends. With the advent of Twitter I have encountered a lot of practical advice about life and spiritual growth. It is usually nicely packaged in 140 characters and often is very catchy, which is useful for remembering and passing on to others. However, the practical application of such advice often falls short and it is left as good advice not applied. I pray that will not be the case with the instruction we find in the Word this morning because James gives us some excellent advice on how to be useful to others and how to greatly impact their lives:
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20)
This is entirely true and if put into practice will cause most people to think well of you. For most of my life I followed these instructions and I was well thought of, put then I started teaching and I had to use many words. When you maintain the same discipline in all areas of your life it is a relatively easy habit to maintain but when that discipline has to change for various responsibilities it becomes much harder. Because I got use to talking as a teacher I found I developed the habit of talking all the time and it has become harder to listen. One problem with talkers is that they do not have time for listening and when they don't listen they start making assumptions to make up for the information they did not hear.
Assumption is a terrible thing because it is usually wrong and often leads to hurt feelings and bottled-up anger. We end up getting angry over something that isn't true, an anger based on assumptions that, when proven false, leaves us looking embarrassed and immature, lacking discernment. Anger is a terrible thing because it shuts off our thinking process and demands retribution. Anger leads to a lot of various sins. Jesus even instructed us that if we get rid of anger we would also do away with murder. James correctly points out that anger prevents spiritual growth.
The best way to avoid anger is to follow the instructions to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Take the time to listen and to think about what you are hearing. Understand other people's perspectives and apply the adage that there are always three sides to a story; yours, theirs and the truth. Consider the words you are going to speak before you say them. Weigh them and consider their impact, what they will provoke in others. The best advice is never deal with the situation while you are angry. Pardon yourself for a few moments while you let your first response slip away, then come back and deal with it in a calmer attitude.
James also knew that there were other things in play when a person allowed themselves to become angry easily:
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. (James 1:21)
I will guarantee you that the reason most people become angry is not the thing that seemed to set them off. Most people carry around with them sticks of dynamite that are just waiting to be lit by something unrelated. A child spills a class of milk and the father becomes angry, smashing dishes and yelling. Because of the spilled milk? No, more likely because he can't pay all the bills this month, or because he was passed over for promotion again or any number of reasons. For many people their anger is a result of the immorality they hide in their heart and the evil that plagues them, like jealousy, pride, hate. All these are like sticks of dynamite just waiting to be set off. The Scripture says the only thing to do is get rid of it all and the only way that can happen is by the blood of Jesus Christ.
So many of us want to get to the next stage in our spiritual growth. So many want to chase after prophecies and live in the prophetic. So many people want to do something great for God, yet, we can't even get the foundation in place. We can't go on to greater things if we can't deal with these simple matters such as anger. Anger does not belong to a child of God and as long as it exists there can be not progress to greater things. Let's finish with our basic training and our basic development before we start trying to wear adult clothes because as long as we are play acting as an adult we are not finishing the lessons of childhood.