James 1;19-21

It can be so hard for pastors not to respond in anger immediately when they learn about a trusted member who is conducting a smear campaign with the intent to destroy the ministry it took years to develop. 

It can be so hard not to respond in anger immediately when you discover your loved one is being physically, emotionally, or sexually abused and told they had better not tell anybody.  

It can be so hard not to respond in anger immediately when your reputation is smeared on social media by a temporarily indignant friend, co-worker, neighbor, or family member. “I am sorry” or “I was just joking” will not undo the damage of their posts after your boss, mother, and church members have read the false, evil words written about you. 

You probably have experienced more scenarios than I can describe in this blog. Please listen. Do not be drawn away from the high life standard God has set for His children by allowing people to push your emotional buttons and respond in your feelings. It will not end well.

Thank God for James who teaches the righteous response to those who deliberately harm us with their words:

Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]; for the [resentful, deep-seated] anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us]. (James 1:19-20, Amplified Bible)

James teaches Christians that our goal is to adopt a high standard of behavior before our Heavenly Father. When people hurt you with their words do not immediately retaliate in anger, but take the following steps:  

Be a careful, thoughtful listener. Listen first and listen carefully before responding. I know firsthand that this is not easy to do. I have failed on more than one occasion; but have gotten much better over time. Listen not to get revenge but listen to get a full understanding of what the heck is going on. 

Be slow to speak. Before talking to the verbal abuser, talk to God first. There have been times when God directed me to ask for forgiveness when I was in the right. I came to understand that He was working a greater good than satisfying my fragile feelings. At other times, He has said, “Be still and know that I am God” because He was handling the situation with no help from me. God has also instructed me to talk to the person, the Holy Ghost worded my mouth, and the situation was resolved. 

Be slow to anger. When we are verbally abused, lied on, falsely accused, it is hard not to be angry immediately. But if we want God to be glorified in our lives, we must not entertain resentment and deep-seated anger because we will become bitter and things will not get better. By the way, it is okay to be righteously angry, but we cannot allow anger to rule our actions and propel us into knee-jerk reactions that do not glorify God. 

How do we make being quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger a lifestyle and not an occasional practice? James instructs us, So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21, Amplified Bible)

We have the Holy Spirit on the inside. We have the power to control ourselves if we really want to. James labels “quick speech and quick anger” as unclean and wicked behavior. He informs us that we can get rid of all unclean and wicked responses to unfair acts of others by allowing God’s Word to rule our hearts. Then and only then can we save our souls (minds, wills, and emotions) from ungodly knee-jerk reactions to people who mean us no good.

Let’s decide to walk in victory over verbal attacks toward us. 

Have you overcome your knee-jerk angry reaction to unfair, verbal attacks? Have you learned to take everything to God in prayer before responding? Or are you a work in progress? Join the conversation.