Posted On: May 14, 2015 • Author: Pastor David Bousquet • Category: Articles
James 1:19 says that we are to be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. The result of following this verse is seen in the next, which says that the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God. Anger is an emotion which is filled with potential for both good and evil. In its profitable sense, anger is meant to provide the emotional fuel to move an individual to stand up against injustice, to protect loved ones from danger, and to guard the path of individual holiness. However, when it is abused it results in the destruction of the individual’s testimony and potentially family.
The way to handle this anger is to recognize that there are several steps in order to manage anger. First, the individual needs to be swift to hear. This literally means that the individual needs to live to listen to the other individual. It is fairly easy to recognize when someone is actively listening to you. Active listening means that the individual is listening with the intent to apply the gained knowledge to the situation. This shows concern for the other and gives a great opportunity demonstrate concern for the other individual. In addition, being swift to hear requires the individual to listen to the words and not to the tone that is used. It listens to detect if the other has been hurt, or what the other’s motivation may be. Thus swift to hear listens to the whole individual and not only to the anger.
Slow to speak means that the individual once he has listened will then carefully choose his words and his tone. He does not say the first thing that comes to his mind, but instead strives to use words that are going to be constructive in the situation. He realizes that words have power, and that if he has been listening then he will be able to check his own emotional response to the situation. His words then should focus on healing the situation.
The final step is to be slow to wrath. This occurs when the individual is able to focus his anger not at the other individual, but instead at the problem. We should not be angry at a person, but instead at a problem. As Christians we are called to love each other, and thus our anger needs to be guided by a sense of love for the other. This allows for a much easier response on the part of the other. If anger is focused at the individual instead of the problem, then forgiveness and healing will be delayed for the problem is not dealt with. When the anger is focused at the problem, which can be both words and actions, then the other is more willing to help fix the situation because he does not feel specifically targeted. This is like dealing with a tumor. Typically the doctors first focus on trying to eliminate the tumor through targeted surgery. Anger is meant to be a specific targeted surgery for a problem. When these concepts are remembered and employed, they will help guide our responses to others, and should aid us in controlling our anger.