Two thousand years ago, James’ advice to the church is still pretty good: “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger…”
This is street theology. This advice comes from everyday living in the real world. James is not worried about the meaning of life or the doctrine of grace or the theology of salvation. He is concerned that the church is forgetting how to be kind and gracious.
Anger seems to be popular these days. Turn on any of the news commentary shows and they all seem to be angry. I heard one of these TV news people admit that anger sells. The angrier he gets about some political something or other the higher his ratings go. I am saddened by that fact.
The book of Proverbs may help him and us, too. The wise author declared, “Fools show their anger at once.”
Sometimes righteous anger is a good thing but again James is helpful: “Your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” In other words, yes, there are things that are worthy of our anger but in the long run anger will eventually fade and we’ll need something more.
I love what John Ortberg says about this: “There is a very important theological distinction between being a prophet and being a jerk.”1 He goes on to say that, “What burns deeply in the heart of a true prophet is not just anger but love.”
What James wants us to know is this: we are each responsible for our lives. We are responsible for our actions and behaviors. What was it Jesus said? “Don’t be worried about the speck in your neighbor’s eye when there is a log protruding from your own.”
“Be quick to listen,” James implores. Maybe that’s a good word for all of us during this election season.
Grace and peace to you,
1 Everyone is Normal Until You Get to Know Them, Ortberg, 179