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Anger is a destructive emotion that has led to every kind of sin, including murder, as when Cain killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4:4-8). The elder brother of the "prodigal son" refused to go to the party for his brother because "he was angry, and would not go in" (Lk. 15:28). Paul wrote "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath " (Eph. 4:26). It is possible to be angry without sinning, but very difficult.

As Jesus saw the moneychangers cheating His people in the temple, He made a scourge of small cords, and drove them out of the temple, saying, "Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise " (Jn.  2:16). Undoubtedly Jesus was angry. He acted out of "righteous indignation." He was angry, but He did not sin because He was zealous for the glory of God. The child of God ought to be angry when the glory of God is challenged, and it is a great tragedy for Christians to be so tolerant that nothing makes them angry.

James gives a simple prescription for dealing with anger: --Wherefore, my beloved brethren,  let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak slow -to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (1: 1920).

To be "swift to hear" means to be a ready listener. All too often we become easily angered because we do not have enough information. When a person really listens to another person, sometimes even "reading between the lines," he may find that what would have otherwise provoked a reaction of anger may instead provoke a reaction of concern or pity. A reaction of anger is often simply a reaction out of emotion. If one listens to discern all the facts, he can deal with the problem rationally.

To be "slow to speak" means to control the tongue, which is a very difficult task. James himself said, "Every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison" (3:7-8). Solomon said, "Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Prov. 29:20). Hasty words spoken in anger will almost always be regretted.

To be "slow to wrath" is also difficult. The old adage of counting to ten works on this principle. If one realizes that he is becoming  angry, he can slow the process. Prayer is helpful in this area, as well as the realization that each person controls his own reaction to a problem. One can choose to be angry in dealing with a problem or he can choose to cope with a problem without anger.

The "new man" in Christ lays aside worldly anger. "Put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him...but Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:811).

-Bob Prichard, P. 0. Box 532, Morristown, TN 37815