…human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. – James 1:20
I don’t know about you, but for me this verse brings out a very gut-level response of Duh! Of course, our human anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires! Duh!
But, then, even with believing that this Scripture speaks God’s good and freeing truth to me, I still too easily dismiss God and God’s truth when I get all focused on me and my own reasons for self-righteous anger. I have to stop and look at myself very honestly. And it just isn’t always pretty. How often do I let myself rant and rave in anger? Even if no one else sees me? Even if no one else hears me? Even if my angry tirade is happening only in the privacy of my own little head? How long do I let myself stay in that place of anger – entertaining, and increasing, my angry thoughts, and justifying myself with several very good reasons as to why I should be so angry, and why I should stay that way for a while longer?
There’s not a whole lot of righteousness and righteous living coming out of my human anger. Only a whole lot of ugly, prideful, deadly self-righteousness. When I let myself get stuck in this ugly, angry place, there just isn’t any room to let the righteous living, that God desires to bring about in me and through me, manifest itself. Instead I’m feasting on anger. And that’s sin.
Our God desires us to live a righteous life. Many of us need to understand (and maybe even redefine) that living a righteous life is not about being bound up in some sort of religious or legalistic code of behavior. Living the righteous life that our God desires for each of His children is, first and foremost, about living in a loving, intimate, honest relationship with our God. Living the righteous life that our God desires will also bring us the greatest freedom we could ever know and experience. Letting our God conform us to think, speak and act (even inside of our own little heads) more and more like Jesus is exactly the freedom – the righteous living – our God desires for us. This is God’s loving purpose for our lives: to free us from anything and everything that would entrap and enslave us. Including our own anger.
Our loving response, to God’s loving desires and purpose for us when it comes to our human anger, would be to immediately ask for God’s help to deal with our anger in God’s righteous living way. God’s way of dealing with our anger is never about having us deny it or stuff it. God’s way of dealing with our anger is never about us imploding and, thereby, destroying our own peace and freedom as we hold our anger in. Nor are we to explode in angry, ugly ways that destroy the peace and freedom of others. God knows anger will rise in us. He doesn’t fault us that. However, out of God’s love for us – out of His desires for us to live a righteous life – our God does demand:
In your anger do not sin. – Ephesians 4:26
We have choices to make. Our God never leaves us alone to accomplish what He desires to do in us and through us. As we ask God to help us in our ugliest anger, we will be transformed to be more quickly quieted in our minds and view our anger-making circumstances from God’s eternal and loving perspective. We will be more like Jesus. Our anger will not so fully entrap us. And we will be more fully free to more fully live the righteous life God desires us to live!