Summary: James does not say we are to eliminate anger. He says we are to be slow to anger. James is too realistic and practical to think that the saints will never feel angry.

Near the end of the last century a group of minors in a

mid-Western state became angry. They expressed that anger by

igniting a carload of coal and pushing it down the mine shaft. Like

most who act in anger, they could not foresee the long range

consequences of their action. When the burning coal struck the

bottom of the mine it spread to the layers of coal within the earth,

and 52 years later it was still burning. It consumed 12 million tons of

coal, and burned over an area of 10 square miles. Now and then a

road would cave in that had been undermined by the eating fire.

Property values in the whole area were greatly reduced, and all of

the people suffered. One farmer even dug up roasted potatoes from

his field. All efforts to quench the fire were fruitless, and so a

moment of anger led to a lifetime of living with the consequences


What those minors did illustrates what millions of individuals are

doing daily by letting their lives be controlled by anger. Add the

letter D to the word anger, and you have danger. In a state of anger

we are only one letter away from danger. This means all of us live

dangerously, because all of us get angry. It is a universal human

emotion, and the saints must wrestle with this trial, along with all

the others they face.

James does not say we are to eliminate anger. He says we are to

be slow to anger. James is too realistic and practical to think that the

saints will never feel angry. Anger in itself is a normal and

legitimate human emotion, but it is so little understood that most

men fail to find its values, and let it be expressed in destructive,

rather than constructive, ways. There are no sinful emotions; only

sinful uses of them. Anger is no more sinful than joy, for God and

Jesus experienced both of them.

Anger handled properly will make a Christian more effective in

living the Christian life. Anger is a form of energy, and energy has

to be used in some way. You cannot destroy it. You have to channel

it, and like atomic energy, you can channel it to purposes of

destruction, or to purposes of construction where it will be helpful

rather than harmful. When we are dealing with anger, we are

dealing with a powerful energy which will serve the cause of good or

evil, and, therefore, it is important for Christians to understand all

they can about this energy which they possess.

Since most of the energy of anger is used for evil, the

predominant emphasis of Scripture is on the peril of anger. In verse

20 James makes it clear that the anger of man is not a fit instrument

for doing the will of God. The chances of being just and merciful

when you are angry are about as great as the chances of removing a

sliver gently with a wood saw. It is just not the right tool for the job,

and anger is just not the right tool for expressing God's

righteousness. That is why we read so many places in Scripture of

the peril of anger, and the need to forsake its path.

Psa. 37:8, "Cease from anger, and forsake wrath."

Psa. 14:17, "He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly."

Pro. 22: 24-25, "Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a

furious man thou shall not go lest thou learn his ways and get a

snare to thy soul."

Pro. 29:22, "An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man

aboundeth in transgression."The Old Testament looks at anger as folly, but in the New Testament

the language is even stronger, for anger is seen as one of the gravest

of sins. Matt. 5:22, "But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry

with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the

judgment." Paul, in several places, lists anger, strife, and wrath as

the sins which make the saints carnal. He writes in Titus 1:7, that a

bishop must be blameless, "...Not self-willed, not soon angry." All

that the Bible says about the peril of anger is backed up by studies in

modern psychology.

On the other hand, we dare not close the door on the positive

side, and so before we look further at the perilous power of anger,

we want to look at-


James implies there is some value to anger by putting it in the

same category with speaking. He says we are to be slow to speak

and slow to anger. He does not say give up speaking and anger

altogether, but recognize that both can do more harm than good, so

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