Anger: A Proud Response to God's Will
Topic: Anger & Pride Verse: James 1:19–1:21
“Anger: A Proud Response to God’s Will”
Theme: In order to know growth in the will of God, we must be willing to hear the Word of God with humility.
I. The Attitude toward the Will of God - v. 19
A. We must be Teachable - “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear …”
- We find in our awareness of the role that the Word of God has in our lives, that our spiritual lives have been produced through the agency of God’s Word - cp. v. 18.
- All of us who have been born again know the power and essential role that God’s Word must play in our lives.
- In light of what “[we] know …” it is necessary that our attitude toward God’s Word, be received with the deference it is due - cp. v. 21.
- This begins with the attitude of being teachable - willing to “hear” - “… everyone must be quick to hear.”
- The idea of “hear” [ἀκούω] conveys that quality of humility that causes a person “to listen," to be “attentive” and interested in what is being said.
- James states that our discipline of “listening” needs to be some we are “quick” [ταχὺς] to do - that is, focused effort so as to reduce the time needed.
- He is saying that believer must give themselves eagerly to opportunities to hear the Word of God - to seize every opportunity they can to find exposure to God’s Word.
B. We Must be Thoughtful - “… slow to speak …”
- This second attitude conveys the notion that we need to give adequate time for the truth of God’s Word to sink in before we respond to it.
- If we fail to take our time to be thoughtful about what God has said in His Word, we will fail to allow it to adequately inform us.
- We often desire to have our own thoughts expressed instead of being willing to listening; in reality, many of us have so little self-discipline that instead of listening, we are already thinking about how we are going to respond.
- We can do this to God’s Word as well - providing self-defense for the violations or contradictions to God’s Word that our lives represent; we think of rationalisms, justifications, explanations, excuses, or reasons that the Word is excessive or unrealistic.
C. We Must Be Tempered - “… and slow to anger;”
- In fact, often we react to the will of God expressed in His Word with “anger.”
- This “anger” [ὀργήν] is not the outburst of wrath, but is the simmering, seething resentments that when unchecked will produce the outbursts.
- When our personal opinions are confronted, our wishes are contradicted, our pleasures are denied, we can become angry - cp. James 4:1-2
- We resent those who tell us the truth if we are not eager to hear and submit ourselves to the truth - cp. Galatians 4:16
- An example of this is when Jesus was preaching in Nazareth and their hostility became so intense that they sought to kill him.
II. The Antagonism toward the Will of God - v. 20
A. The Reaction to Truth
- When a person reacts to the truth of the Word of God will anger, he is not teachable at all.
- The rebellion against the Word of God is a rebellion against the will of God as well.
- In fact, often anger is just this - a reaction to the will of God when it crosses what a person believes that they deserve or what they desire.
- When such is the case, the “righteousness of God” is not “achieved” [ἐργάζομαι] - or accomplished.
B. The Righteousness through Truth
- What does “achieve the righteousness of God” is the submissive spirit as the Word of God is received with humility and meekness.
- It is through this that we are transformed.
III. The Acceptance of the Will of God - v. 21
A. The Repudiation of Oneself
- We are told that it is necessary to be “putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness …”
- This is what characterizes the person who is willing to listen and be slow to speak - a person who desires to change.
- The word “filthiness” [ῥυπαρίαν] - is closely related to a moral state of defilement or vulgarity and is a term that describes “ear wax” - fittingly describing what reduces our ability to “hear” the Word.
- All that impedes our ability to hear is to be “put aside” - cp. Ephesians 4:22-24; Hebrews 12:1; 1 Peter 2:1-2
B. The Reception of the Word
- When we do, we are free “… in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”
- “humility” [πραΰτητι] - is the word for gentleness or meekness - or that which is opposite of anger; it is the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance.
- The phrase “the word implanted” describes the willingness to allow the Word of God to be planted in soil that is fertile - a heart that is truly teachable.
- The benefit of this is that the Word “is able to save your souls” -
- Initially through regeneration - saving us from the penalty of sin
- Constantly through sanctification - saving us from the power of sin
- Ultimately through glorification - saving us from the presence of sin