Anger is kind of a weird thing to talk about. I usually think of it as a moment or short-term emotion, but when I really think about what anger is, I realize that it is more than a strong unpleasant feeling. It is practice for how we react to things.
We can look at James 1:19-20 to unpack this a more. It says “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.”
I think this gives us good advice on how we should react to any situation.First, we should be quick to hear. This is so different from a lot of people’s natural instinct. Most of the time when we are wronged or when we receive bad news, the first thing we do is let our emotions have the first say. We allow our actions to be dictated by what we’ve heard and it’s probably because we are not taking the time to actually listen.
So, what does it mean to listen?
It does not just mean hearing the words that are coming out of someone’s mouth, but taking the time to see where they are coming from. It is so important that we try to understand other’s perspective before coming to our own conclusions. More importantly, we have to learn to see things from God’s perspective.
Next, we should be slow to speak. I think this is the time that allows God to speak into a situation.This is time that we can use to control our emotions instead of letting our emotions control us. This pause time is also a huge act of humility. Whenever we are quick to react with anger and judgement, it tells the other person you do not really care what they have to say, and that your thoughts are more important than theirs. When we take time to listen to what God says we are saying that we don't know everything and we need God’s help.
Finally, we should be slow to anger. I think this simply means that we shouldn't let so many things bother us. In other words, don't sweat the small stuff, and probably not the medium sized stuff either. As mentioned earlier, we have to see things from God’s perspective and have the same mindset. We have to think “does this really matter?” and actually be honest with ourselves.
Okay, so yes this looks like a simple three step process, but I get that it’s not that easy. And what if there is something really big that’s worth getting angry about? After all, even God was angry some times. I think we are supposed to start with the small stuff. Relearning how to react and allowing that practice to come into play when bigger things do come up.
Invite God into your emotions and reactions. Start with the small stuff, like maybe a roommate not doing the dishes, and before speaking to them, ask God what He has to say about the situation. When we invite God into the small stuff and practice it daily, it gets a lot easier to bring Him into the bigger stuff.
Author | Kourtney Axelberg