My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1, verses 19-20.
My project is experiencing delay. We are one year out from implementation of changing codes and practices that have been in place for over forty years and we are experiencing yet more delay. It’s true, there are valid business reasons for this; competing projects, unavailability of resources, limited funds, simple overwork, and corporate intransigence. As a project manager, my client is paying me to advise them on how to avert crises, then make plans for how to still complete our tasks. Some days that seems for naught because, when all’s said and done, we’re being delayed, and every delay increases risk, cost, and the likelihood of problems.
It makes me angry.
Now, it’s true that there are situations where it’s ok to become angry. Dictionary.com defines anger as “a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; ire.” Fair enough. Jesus understood anger. He became angry at the moneychangers in the temple. He strongly but angrily defeated Satan in the desert when the devil tempted Him. He rebuked His close friend Peter when Peter displayed ignorance and pride. Anger can be ok. Within us, it’s a hard-wired psychological response to a physiological condition. God calls us to tap into that condition on matters that offend Him. When we’re confronted with actions, words, etc that are contrary to Jesus, He tells us that it’s ok to be angered by them so that constructive action for the betterment of the Kingdom may result. Righteous anger should lead only to righteous following.
Yet James, inspired by his Brother, reminded us of the fine line between human anger and the righteous anger of challenged faith. He reminds us that, even when being righteously angered, we should temper it. Temper the anger with patience and wisdom instead of fueling it with impetuousness. Looking and listening serve to inform and may just open our eyes to things God may be doing in the moment. If there is a need for our anger, that need will only be correctly focused if it is better informed by Him.
Those are good lessons to remember today when I jump back into project meetings. It’s not that the customer is always right, especially as regards delaying things that shouldn’t be delayed. It’s their decision and their prerogative. I serve my customer better by offering choices, outlining consequences, and planning for contingencies. The way to do that is to listen, to keep my mind on first principles, and to pay attention to what God is doing in things that would otherwise have fueled my sinful anger.
Lord Jesus, teach me more to be angry only at the things that anger You. Remind me, I ask, to listen, watch, and learn to better be led by You.
Is your anger on a tripwire?
What things anger you?
Is your anger a reaction or is it righteous?