Anger does not bring about the righteousness of God.
James 1:19-2:17 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
You know this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; 20 for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, ridding yourselves of all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who has looked intently at the perfect law, the law of freedom, and has continued in it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an active doer, this person will be blessed in what he does.
26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
2 My brothers and sisters, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and is dressed in bright clothes, and a poor man in dirty clothes also comes in, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the bright clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters: did God not choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? 7 Do they not blaspheme the good name by which you have been called?
8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the Law as violators. 10 For whoever keeps the whole Law, yet stumbles in one point, has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do murder, you have become a violator of the Law. 12 So speak, and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
14 What use is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 In the same way, faith also, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
Today’s text says: Know this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God. Even righteous anger, being angry about the things that are an offense to God, does not bring about God’s righteousness if we express it in our flesh. In Psalm 37:7-9 the psalmist says: Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not get upset because of one who is successful in his way, Because of the person who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and abandon wrath; Do not get upset; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be eliminated, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. We need to guard ourselves from being upset and obsessed with those who do evil. We cannot allow our anger to cause us to sin. Romans 12:21 says: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. How do we overcome evil with good.
How do we overcome evil with good? Be quick to hear, Romans 12:14-20 tells us: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” For clarity, that we are to respect what is right in the sight of all people does not mean that we respect their right to immorality and unrighteousness. It means that in the midst of unrighteousness, we continue to respect what is truly right, for all to see. That we rejoice with those who rejoice, does not mean that we rejoice in their sin. We bless them, but we do not bless their sin. In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus says: “Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter shall pass from the Law, until all is accomplished! Therefore, whoever nullifies one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness far surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Finally, the burning coals that we heap on the head of our enemies are not for their destruction. Instead, they are like the coals in Isaiah 6:6-7: One of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your guilt is taken away and atonement is made for your sin.” They are for their cleansing and forgiveness.
The text continues: Therefore, ridding yourselves of all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves.For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who has looked intently at the perfect law, the law of freedom, and has continued in it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an active doer, this person will be blessed in what he does. The world may call us hypocrites if we do not love as they say we should, tolerating and embracing their unrighteousness, but if we prove to be doers of the word, we must rid ourselves of all filthiness. Romans 12:9 says: Love must be free of hypocrisy. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” If we are a doer of the word, then we will shine the light of Christ in the darkness of the world. The text says: So speak, and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.