Every Tuesday evening for 30 weeks, I spent 3 hours in a classroom discussing family life skills with a group of women and a trained marriage and family counselor. On one memorable evening, our teacher stood at the front and re-defined anger for me:
“Anger is a false front – a signpost for another underlying root emotion. We use anger to cover up our shame, inadequacy, and pain.”
Really? I grew up in a home where angry outbursts were the norm. In order to be heard, you simply elevated your voice and spoke with more passion. This was how we communicated. Now as an adult, I needed to re-learn how to engage in discussion without verbally sparring if I wanted to have a peaceful home. I needed to remove the roots of bitterness wrapped around my selfish heart.
What I learned through wise counsel matches perfectly with the truths shared in the book of James. Self-righteous anger is never healthy. We will never win the war by using our words as a weapon.
The Apostle James lived in a time where opposing parties were passionate about opinions, and he offered practical help to the early church regarding how to work through conflicts. The way of the world is to demand our own way, but in this passage, we discover God’s equation for healthy communication:
- Be quick to hear.
The implication here is two-fold:
- We must have a teachable spirit that submits to the instruction of God’s Word and diligently obeys. As we plant God’s Word in our selfish hearts, the fruit that results is meekness. Rather than demand our rights, we should place the needs of others before our own with a submissive heart.
“An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15)
- We should try to understand the position of others, rather than arguing for our own way. We often miss the pain points in the lives of those we are speaking with because we don’t listen beyond their words to the cry rising up out of their wounded hearts.
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2)
- Be slow to speak.
Unrestrained passion makes for poor communication. It’s best to choose our words carefully – or not speak at all. Rather than react and get offended, we should prayerfully respond and extend grace.
“Whenever words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)
- Be slow to anger.
Refuse to wear self-righteous indignation like a badge of honor. Instead, humbly offer up your hurts to God and let Him fight your battles.
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32)
James explains how we must uproot fleshy, sinful weeds that clutter up the soil of our heart. As we study God’s Word, a seed of truth is planted in our lives. Every time we humbly obey what God says, beautiful fruit begins to grow. If you have a history of anger in your family like me, God’s Word applied to your heart can change the landscape of your life.
We can weed out anger and sow righteousness in its place.
Tending to our hearts is hard work, but it’s worth it.
Keeping the Faith,
Lyli Dunbar enjoys karaoke in the car with her husband, digging into Bible study with the girls, and reading 12 books at a time. A writer, speaker, and mentor, her burning passion is to know Jesus and to make Him known. Join her at lylidunbar.com to find fuel for a wildfire faith. You may also connect with Lyli on Facebook, Instagram,Twitter, You Tube and Pinterest.
Week 2 Challenge: This week, focus on being a “Doer” of God’s Word. Don’t just read God’s Word, live it out! Hold your tongue when you want to respond in anger, go the extra mile for that person who is needing the help, extend the forgiveness even though it hurts and be generous…with your money, love and time.
Week 2 Reading Plan
Week 2 Memory Verse
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