The second reason we should be slow to anger is because we are imperfect judges.
Much of the time anger involves making a judgment: What that person did to me was wrong and I have a right to be angry about it. Yet only God is capable of perfectly righteous anger, because God is the perfectly righteous judge.
God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. (Psalm 7:11)
Only God knows all things that go into a judgment: the motives of men’s hearts, all the factors that went into a sin, the exact degree of anger and the exact punishment each sin deserves. We, on the other hand, are very imperfect judges. We don’t know why people do something or all they’ve been through that affects their actions. We constantly interpret and make judgments, but those judgments could be wrong. That’s why we should be slow to anger.
Years ago my wife Kristi got really sick and was unable to do anything, including housework, and a lot fell on me. I struggled with resentment, which is a form of anger, because I misjudged her. I didn’t say anything, but I thought she wasn’t really that sick, she wasn’t trying hard enough, or maybe she was sick to some degree but was just milking it. I know, I’m horrible. It’s amazing she has stayed married to me. I made a judgment – I thought Kristi was doing something wrong to ME. But I couldn’t know how sick she was. And I couldn’t know her heart. I was an incredibly ignorant and sinful judge. We should be slow to anger because we are imperfect judges.
The third reason we should be slow to anger is because we are all sinners.
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. (Romans 2:1)
We all blow it every day many times. If you lay on your horn in rage because someone pulls out in front of you – have you never pulled in front of someone? Are you a perfect driver? You get angry because your wife misplaced your car keys? Have you never misplaced anything? I used to always accuse Kristi of losing the keys. Then I’d find them in my coat pocket. Now when I can’t find the keys, and I find them in my coat pocket I say, “Kristi, why did you hide the keys in my coat pocket?” We should be slow to anger because we too are sinners.
The fourth reason we should be slow to anger is because man’s anger will not produce the righteousness of God.
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. (James 1:19-20)
James tells us we should be QUICK to hear: quick to listen, quick to try to understand, quick to hear another’s point of view. We should be quick to listen to someone’s input for us. Quick to want to see our sin and change. But we should be SLOW to speak, AND SLOW to anger at someone else’s behavior. Why? “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
We want people to treat us with righteousness. We want our children to do the right thing, to act righteously. But anger won’t make anyone do the right thing. The anger of man does NOT produce the righteousness of God. I once heard someone say that if we yell at our kids to intimidate them they may obey outwardly, but it will only make them into little Pharisees. The Pharisees did the right thing on the outside, but didn’t love God in their hearts. Our children may obey out of the fear of man, but it won’t cause them to obey out of love for God. The anger of man DOES NOT produce the righteousness of God.
Excuse me, I have to go find my keys. I wonder where Kristi hid them…
Mark Altrogge serves as a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church. Find out more at The Blazing Center.
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Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter.
Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.