Angry at Authority?
Read James 1:19-21
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore, put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
According to James, anger does not produce the righteousness of God. What does?
There seems to be a growing number of people who are angry at God’s Word. For one thing, many of them do not believe the Bible is God’s Word. They reject the authority of Scripture, and therefore, they don’t feel as though the Bible has any right to tell them how to live. Many people do not want to hear any Scripture that convicts them and demonstrates the error of their ways. And when presented with such Scriptures, the response I come across most often is a quick rebuttal using canned arguments that either reject Scripture’s authority or twist other Scriptures to justify their behavior. If given too much push back on their ideas, the conversation can turn explosive.
Unfortunately, I am not just referring to nonbelievers here. Even as believers, we sometimes put on spiritual earmuffs to block the words that convict us and are slow to listen to the truth. We are often quick to offer excuses or justifications for our behavior. We are quick to get angry at those who are bold enough to suggest our behavior is ungodly and deserving of reproach.
James warns us that this is not the way. He said that anger does not produce the righteousness of God but that humbly receiving the Word has the ability to save our souls. How do we humbly receive the Word of God? First, James says that we should be quick to hear. We should excitedly seek opportunities to hear the Word because we want to be changed by it! Second, he suggests that we be slow to speak. After we hear the Word, rather than quickly argue with it, we should slowly ponder and consider it with humility.
Finally, we should be slow to anger. When we do get angry at God’s Word, it is often because it stuck to a chord. Our anger rather than our repentance suggests that we do not really want to “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness.” Our anger often reveals our desire to cling to our sins rather than cast them off.
Friends, let’s humbly accept what Scripture says as authoritative in our lives. Let’s be excited to hear from God, slow to talk back, and slow to react. Being quick-tempered is not the way to becoming more righteous or more like Christ.
Father, You are my God and my King. You have the authority to tell me how to live. Help me to be quick to listen to sound teaching and to take time to ponder it . Help me to humbly accept Your Word and honestly examine my life without becoming angry and defensive. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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