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  • Joseph Randall

The Righteousness of God and Our Sinful Anger (James 1:19-20)

…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. —James 1:19-20

There is so much in the world to be angry about. And quite frankly, if you are a follower of Jesus, you should be angry and hate evil: Psalm 97:10: O you who love the LORD, hate evil!

You should be angry about abortion, sex trafficking, exploitation of the poor, racism, sexual immorality, gossip, slander, murder, lying, stealing, and all the belittling of the glory of God. But more than that, you should be most angry about your own sin—like your own sinful anger.

Anger becomes sinful anytime it causes you to fail to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength and when you fail to love your neighbor as yourself. If your anger causes you to disobey God in any way, then it is sinful—it does not produce the righteousness God requires.

The harsh, unloving word against your husband or wife is sinful. Disciplining your children from a heart filled with rage and impatience is sinful. Tearing down your coworkers or roommates with your words, words that have the power of death and life in them (Proverbs 18:21), is sinful. There is such wisdom in the Holy Spirit’s command: “Be quick to hear, slow to speak.”

Being angry more about the sin of others than your own sin may reveal pride and hypocrisy in your heart. Ask God to reveal to you the root of your anger.

How do we fight sinful anger?

First, know the utter wickedness of sinful anger. Jesus equates anger with murder: Matthew 5:21-22: You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment

Your anger shows you are a murderer at heart and only deserve hell. Repent, grieve, and plead with God to forgive you and free you from it.

Second, know that you have a great Savior who got very angry and never sinned. Jesus got so angry that He even made a whip once and drove everyone out of the temple (John 2:13-25).

Know that your anger sent the perfect, sinless Savior to the cross. Know that He loved you while you were yet a murderer at heart. Know that He died to save you from God’s wrath. Know that He was raised and is alive forevermore to dwell in your heart and free you from all your sinful anger forever as He makes you more and more like Himself! What a Savior! What a Gospel!


For Reflection

  1. What makes you most angry and why? Seek the Lord to show you the deep roots of your anger.

  2. In what ways does your anger cause you to sin?

  3. Are there people you have sinned against out of anger that you need to reconcile with?

  4. How can you better rest in the finished work of Christ in order to be set free from anger?


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