The temptation we look at today is anger. Has anyone ever been tempted with anger? James connects anger with talking when we should be listening. Have you ever thought about this? People who become angry quickly and excessively are people who are quick to talk and slow to listen.

The Book of James – How Life Works
By Pastor Delbert Young

Anger How It Works

Audio

Anger How It Works

Scriptures: James 1:19, James 1:20, Proverbs 29:20, Matthew 12:36, Matthew 12:37, James 1:20, James 1:21, James 1:21, James 1:21, James 1:21, James 1:22, James 1:23, James 1:24, James 1:25, James 1:25, James 1:26, Luke 6:46

We are in our series on the book of James called How Life Works. Last time we talked about how temptation works. We wrote our temptations down and nailed them to the cross. Some of you may wonder what happened to those papers. We burned them.

James continues talking about temptations. The temptation we look at today is anger. Has anyone ever been tempted with anger? Let’s put this another way. Has anyone ever not been angry? So, we gave into the temptation. This should be a relevant lesson, right?

Let’s prepare our hearts to receive the word. The lesson will end with James telling us to accept the word which is able to save our souls. To change our souls, we must accept his word. Would you pray with me we receive a word that can save our souls? Let’s pray.

Okay, so, how does anger work. Let’s read.

James 1:19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

James 1:20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

My dear brothers . . . Before we dive into how anger works, let’s talk a second about how James approached teaching. James uses this phrase, or a similar phrase, more than fifteen times in this book. His desire is to connect with the people. James was the brother of Jesus. He was an apostle. He was the senior leader of the church in Jerusalem. Though his book is often brutally pungent, his desire is to connect with the people. He doesn’t come for his position of authority. He comes from his position as a fellow brother in Jesus.

This is what I strive to do. I am much better now than I used to be, but I have so far to go. None of us have arrived and to project from a point of superiority is not good. Sometimes I am confrontational from the pulpit, but my heart is really “My dear brothers and sister.” I hope it comes across this way.

. . . take note of this . . . James wanted us to make certain we get a handle on this one. He said, “Take note here.” “Underline this.” “Don’t miss this.” “Take notes on this.”

James connects anger with talking when we should be listening. Have you ever thought about this? People who become angry quickly and excessively are people who are quick to talk and slow to listen. Let’s look at a few scriptures to help us nail down what the Bible teaches about talking in haste.

Proverbs 29:20 Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Now, let’s be fair. We are all guilty here. We have all spoke in haste when we should have listened. The Bible says the person who lashes out and talks in haste and speaks in anger is given less hope than a fool. Ouch! Hope for what? The hope for an abundant life is damaged. The hope for friends is damaged. Even the hope for salvation is in jeopardy. Well, it’s what Jesus said.

Matthew 12:36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

Matthew 12:37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

We are freed or condemned by the words we speak. Jesus said severe judgment comes when we carelessly talk. This would mean we talk without caring what we say or whom we hurt. The Bible says this is a foolish thing to do.

Have you ever been around people who stirred themselves to anger by talking and talking? They would not listen because they had to talk. Let’s make this a little more personable. Have you ever begun talking about something and then found yourself getting more and more upset as you kept talking? We may begin speaking in a normal voice, but we intensify. The next thing we know is we are in full blown anger and rage. Our hands are waving. Our voices are screaming. Our blood pressure goes up and our faces become red. We say things we would never say in any other situation. We hurt the ones we love. We damage walls and doors and sometimes people physically. We definitely damage their souls. Look at what James said.

James 1:20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

It is impossible to give a picture of Jesus when we are angry. Anger and a righteous life are in direct opposition. We don’t project Christianity when we are angry. Our children do not see Jesus in us. Our spouse does not see Jesus in us. Our friends do not see Jesus in us. No one can see Jesus in us when we are angry. Anger affects the thought process. Anger affects our health. Anger will affect the outcome of life.

Cause of anger: James gives the cause of anger. It is fascinating to me.

James 1:21 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 connects moral problems with anger. Someone said, “Do what? What has my morality have to do with my anger? Wait just a minute!”

I didn’t say it. James said it. The Bible says it. Let’s look at this verse in two parts.

James 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent . . .

James links anger with “moral filth” and with “the evil that is so prevalent” with the conjunction “Therefore.” He says excessive anger comes from something morally wrong and evil. Excessive anger actually means something else is going on much deeper. Let’s take a moment here and ponder this. First, let’s get a working definition of the word moral. It means our personal principles of right and wrong. It means our personal standards of behavior and character based on those principles. Simply, moral means the rules by which we live our lives. People live their lives by different rules.

Have you ever seen someone who had consumed too much alcohol become excessively angry and mean? I have. This was the rule by which they live their life. People doing drugs can often become irritable and angry. This was the rule by which they live their life. I’ve seen one spouse in an adulterous relationship become extremely angry at the spouse who had been faithful. This was the rule by which they live their life. A child in rebellion will become angry at a loving parent. This is the rule by which they live their life. A person full of greed will become angry if unable to gain. The rule of this life is greed. James says if we are dealing with prevalent excessive anger, we should look deeper. There are some evil moral issues. There are some rules we need to change.

Solution: The solution is in two parts. (1) YOU “get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent.” (2) We must “accept the word planted in” us.

James 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent . . .

We will look at (1) first since it is in the part of James 1:21 we are now looking. How do we “get rid of” this stuff? James said, YOU “get rid of” it. Change the rules. We get to do it. We change the moral code by which we live our lives. No one can change my code but me. No one can change your moral code but you. But how do we change it? Ahhh, this is the real solution.

James 1:21 . . . and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Getting rid of moral evil is not enough. We must also accept the word of God which can save us. The Greek is soósai tás psuchás humoón which is literally “save your souls.” The word we get planted in us can literally save our souls! Do we believe this? Do Christians really believe this?

I will never ever forget the amazement I experienced just after I came to the Lord in 1978. I had this obsession to read the Bible. I actually believe it was reading the Bible in my bed one morning I really made the decision to become a Christian. My amazement was about how little Christians knew about the Bible. We began going to Sunday school class and within a few weeks, I was answering questions Believers could not answer who had been walking with the Lord for decades. It amazed me. I remember one woman encouraging me and telling me to continue learning the word. It seemed strange to me. I thought this was what Christians were supposed to do. My point is we don’t really believe the word will save our souls. If we did believe it, we would be much more prolific about reading it. There is no wonder we struggle with trials, temptation, anger and our tongues.

Getting rid of moral evil is not enough. The ultimate solution to excessive anger which comes from moral issues is accepting the word of God. That’s how anger works. James says the solution is to change the rules by which we live our lives by changing them to the way the word of God says to live.

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

James 1:23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror

James 1:24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

James says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Listening and reading is not enough. We must accept it and do what it says.

James used a mirror as a metaphor to describe how many of us react to the word. He said coming and listening to the word is like looking into a mirror and walking away not doing anything about what he saw. What if a person looks into the mirror and sees the mess, but forgets or neglects to adjust him or her self? They walk away thinking they are looking okay. However, as soon as someone sees them, it’s a different story. Others notice our mess. Concerning anger, we may forget the anger we expressed, but others see it.

Looking into a mirror is one of the very first things I do every morning. If I didn’t, I would be a mess walking through life. I look intently into the mirror and change something about what I see. I do this every day. Every day we need to look into the word and we need to make as many adjustments as we possibly can.

James 1:25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.

I want to ask you a question. I want you to answer it in your heart. When you read the word, do you read a lot of “do this,” “do that,” “do this other?” Or, do you see things bringing you freedom if you do them? I try to find things that will make me free. Sometimes it’s easy to do them. Sometimes it’s difficult to do them. I am still working on a bunch of them, but I do not see “do this” and “do that” and “do the other.” That approach has worked for me. I am a blessed man. Let’s look at the verse one more time before closing.

James 1:25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.

The blessing comes from doing the word. Doing something about what we see in the mirror adjusts the way we look to the best we can be. Adjusting our lives to the word will adjust our life to the best it can be.

James says controlling anger will take two primary acts on our part. First, we must find a moral issue. Secondly, we must look intently into the word and do what it says. Then James says something again about controlling our tongues when angry.

James 1:26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

I don’t think verse needs any explanation. If I can’t control my tongue – what comes out of my mouth – my religious walk means nothing. It is worthless. I am deceiving myself. I am not dealing with my moral issues. I am not accepting the word of God. I am a mess walking through life. Perhaps the words of Jesus will make sense here.

Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

If I am not attempting to do what the word says, I am deceiving myself about Jesus being my Lord. I really need to investigate my salvation. This is serious, but how horrible it would be to think I was just fine, but wake up in hell.

James said the way anger works is by not listening, not controlling the tongue, and not accepting the word of God. The way to stop anger is by being slow to speak, quick to listen, and to accept the word of God. That’s how life works and that’s how anger works.

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