James 1:19-21 “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”
The saddest life is the one that lacks any purpose. Most of us in the church have some aims besides that of mere survival. Everyone who knew the story of Justin Fashenu was distressed by how it ended. Britain’s first million pound black footballer, who had made a decision to become a Christian, seemed to have everything the world longs for – looks, talent, fame and money. What a glittering future seemed to stretch before him. In 1980 when he scored Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season for Norwich he was asked what life did he want in the years to come and he replied, “more money and more fame.” Yet in May 1998 his body was found in a lock-up garage in London’s East End. He had, apparently, hanged himself. This goal-scorer’s goals in life had let him down.
It is absolutely crucial to have the right goals. Instead of asking what sort of life do I want, we should ask, what sort of life does God desire for me. How does our Creator expect us to live ? Happiness and fulfilment will consist of identifying this, and then making it our own aim. James tells us that God desires a righteous life for us (v.20). Riches and fame simply do not enter into God’s purposes for his people. The health and wealth message does not at all come from the Lord, and to pursue it is the way of death. God’s concern for us is that we be righteous men and women.
James is not talking to everybody in the world. In this letter he is writing to a specially favoured people to whom the Lord has chosen to give birth through the word of truth, who are a kind of firstfruits of all God has created (v.18). He is writing about the family of God whom James refers to as “My dear brothers” (vv. 16 & 19). He has been considering their many trials, and has been giving them exemplary advice (vv. 2 & 12). These Christian men and women are being reminded of God’s purpose for their futures, and that is to live the righteous life. Nothing else matters to them. Nothing else is important.
No matter how I might try to express the phrase ‘the righteous life’ in some other way, which might make it appear less stringent and more attractive, I am still left with this, that the God who gave us our first and second births wants our lives be like his, holy, loving, just and full of integrity, because that is what ‘righteous’ means. But let us look at our text and its very practical and concrete definition of the righteous life.
1. THE RIGHTEOUS LIFE SHOWS ITSELF IN OUR LANGUAGE
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (v.19). Our tongues are a barometer of whether we are living a righteous life or not. James is helping people who are facing trials of many kinds. We all regret that in past trials our fears were stirred, and we became confused and began to doubt God, and we did not behave as James says here. We were slow in listening to others, quick to speak and quick to get angry. We blew it. Especially during trials we need one another as Christians, and this is the only way we can help one another – being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Let us look at these three exhortations.
i] A righteous man is quick to listen. He listens first to God. Particularly in trials, but at any time when he feels his temperature rising, and he’s getting utterly frustrated, and everybody seems to be acting in an utterly stupid way – then it is he makes sure that he listens to God. He listens to what the Bible says, and especially when the Bible is being preached. He’ll be saved from an absolute disaster if he will listen. If the apostle Peter had listened to what the Lord had said there wouldn’t have been hot tears and sobs of sorrow the following day.
When the Word of God was preached and God gave us a new birth then Scripture became our mother. Listen to your mother ! “Be quick to hear “. You must not linger, hesitating, debating, quibbling about her meaning. Your mother speaks plainly about the matter; listen to her and be quick to understand and obey. There is nothing ambiguous about what she says. Grasp her meaning and learn to obey. Christians often fail to grow and gain the mastery over their tempers because of their disposition. There is little eagerness to hear. But eagerness to listen to one’s mother comes from a love for her. Love listens. It grows out of a proper relationship to her. This relationship, in turn, is maintained by obedience. One is eager to learn more of God’s Word when he loves it. And he will love it all the more as he obeys it” (A Thirst for Wholeness, Jay Adams, p.89).
Before he speaks to anyone else he must learn to listen to God. It seems that anyone with some notoriety who makes a profession of faith is in a pulpit speaking to other people the very next day. It does not matter how prominent a position he has held, and how quickly he is learning the Christian faith, when he is given a divine birth he is a new-born babe, and he has a child’s attitudes and faith. Let him promptly give himself to the Word of truth and pass through the stage of a novice before he speaks to others. Hasty births make poor preachers. Christians must first become quick to listen before they can become useful in teaching others. Thomas Aquinas thought highly of himself as an orator until one day he heard an outstanding minister named Albertus Magnus. That experience brought him up short. This was real preaching, and henceforth the intense attention he paid to Magnus gained him the reputation of being “the dumb ox.” Aquinas was simply captivated with the sermons Magnus preached. Before he himself could become any kind of preacher he had to become a great listener. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). How many sermons did the Lord Jesus hear in the synagogue before he began to preach ? John the Baptist was thirty years old before he spoke first, and so was our Lord.
Let a man learn to listen to others. James is not exhorting us to listen a lot, as it were to be just sitting and letting a monologue of someone’s stream of consciousness flow over and around us while we say nothing at all. Of course, times come when we have to forfeit our right to interrupt and to dictate the direction of the conversation. We let the person talk away, and it may seem an utterly unedifying exercise to us. But that grace is not what James is talking about here. He is urging promptness in attending to what someone is saying to you. “Drop everything you are doing and listen,” is James’ meaning. He is talking about the respect you pay to someone who is speaking to you, that there is a genuine interest, because by this you are showing that you are loving your neighbour as yourself. You don’t fidget, as you give yourself to someone. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was once addressing a group of clinical medical students at the British Medical Association House, London, in 1972, about counselling patients, and he told them, “the first basic requisite is patience. If you are not able to exercise such patience you will be a very bad counsellor. If you appear to be only half-listening, and give the impression that your mind is somewhere else, and that you think that this interview is a waste of time, you will do no good at all. You must be ready to give yourself to listening. Above everything else you must listen to what the patient says. It is astonishing to note the way in which people are helped merely by having someone who will listen to them” (The Doctor Himself and the Human Condition, “The Doctor as Counsellor”, p.44). Someone said, “We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less.”
A wise old owl lived in an oak.
The more he knew, the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he knew;
Does that same thing apply to you ?
Unfortunately, many old people are not like that owl, and have never learned to listen. They will give young people no time to finish what they are saying before interrupting, as though age alone has made them wise:- “Yes, yes, young man …” Let’s be careful we don’t patronise young people by cutting them down in mid-sentence. “Let no man despise your youth.” Let us learn early to be swift to hear old and young.
ii] The righteous man is slow to speak. How different is the spirit of our age where there is this emphasis on expressing your feelings, and letting everything hang out. Be slow to speak, says James. You know that he is not commending drawling speech ! Nor is James exhorting us to take vows of silence. How could a Christian – who has good news to tell every person he meets – take a vow of silence without sinning ? We are urged to, “Exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin,” In the days of Israel we are told, “those that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened and heard it.” There are truths that need constantly to be brought forward. Who will bear witness to them if we are silent ? There is such an entity as a guilty silence for which many of us cowards must answer to God. Nor is James with these words encouraging an unsociable taciturness. How refreshing it is when a group of Christians gather and someone can break the ice and speak, answer questions in a Bible Study, or make helpful comments about a matter of concern. James is not commending unmortified shyness. An open-faced young Christian who will volunteer answers in an unsurly manner is a joy to a congregation.
James is concerned here about blurting out words thoughtlessly. The Lord Jesus speaks of ‘idle words’ and having to give to Almighty God an account of them. “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:37). There is an old saying, “many a man has had to repent of speaking, but never one of holding his peace.” James’ concern is that we might never be rash, but speak when we see our duty clear, and then carefully weigh what we are going to say. “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Prov. 17:28). There was a time when the Lord Jesus was being pressurised into passing the ultimate sentence upon a woman caught in adultery. They were using the woman as a snare with little genuine concern for her or the word of God. “But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger” (John 8:6). How unbearable that long hush, as the woman stood there, and the Lord Christ said nothing, and the minutes went by. When they persisted he merely said, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (v.7). Then in another silence that followed those words they drifted away, the older ones went first because they knew they had more years of sin to take to the Judgment. We, under those circumstances, might have wordily discussed the ending of the requirements of the old covenant’s capital requirements, and the new covenant’s stipulations about church discipline for immorality. But with this woman dehumanised into becoming a lure in order to trap the Lord Jesus how powerful was his lengthy deliberation before speaking. How slow he was to speak ! Then he focused upon the consciences of those men, who were more excited by the woman’s sexual guilt than their own sin, and his silence and then those few words drove them to a more serious spirit. With his exhortation to the woman to go and sin no more the Son of God dismissed her. He did not condemn her because God had not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.
Be slow to speak especially when you are making judgements about people or behaviour or doctrine. Is it not a fact that when we pass judgment upon others we are suggesting how far above them we are ? As we dispense moral judgements, so, by that very act, we acknowledge ourselves to be moral men. “He is so careless,” we say, implying that we are careful people. “I don’t like his pride,” we say to a close friend, implying that we ourselves are models of humility. Or if their meanness is getting under our skin, are we announcing our own generosity ? When we talk of a great man’s doctrinal aberration are we parading our own theological superiority ? Be slow to speak !
iii] The righteous man is also slow to become angry. Of the three this is the most important barometer to the God-pleasing life, because a reason is appended to this command.
Everyone knows that not all anger is wrong. Christians point out that in Psalm 7 and verse 11 righteous anger is attributed to the Lord himself. God is angry with unrighteousness, injustice, and false religion. We remember Jehovah Jesus making a whip and driving the moneychangers out of the temple. Then the apostle Paul exhorts the Ephesian congregation not to allow righteous anger to become sinful anger by letting the sun go down on their wrath (Eph. 4:26). There is a right display of anger, we are correctly told, like the display of every emotion which God has created and given to us. A husband is justified in being angry with someone who has violated his wife. Parents are justified in being angry with anyone who introduces their children to drugs, or laces their drinks in a party. We don’t appreciate a religion which teaches people to be as devoid of anger as a Buddha or a Sphinx, but, then, we are interested in one that will tell us how to control and purify that emotion.
My concern is this, that rarely is man’s anger righteous. Anger doesn’t do ourselves or anyone else any good, in fact, the very reverse. Think of what the world does when it’s enraged. How horrible a sin anger is, and allied to the deceit of our own hearts, how quickly we justify to ourselves every display of our rage as righteous. When I hear of one Christian becoming angry with another I am utterly depressed. When I witness anger in church meetings or officers’ meetings – which events have been extremely rare – I will never forget those nights. How I groan over other times when I lost my cool. .
The sin is of anger lies in this, it gets angry for the wrong reasons, Cain was angry with Abel out of envy, and so killed him. Moses fell into nationalistic hatred when he saw a taskmaster beating a fellow-countryman in Egypt and he murdered the Egyptian. What retaliation did Pharaoh take for that action against the Israelites ? It was not a popular act, and for its wildness Moses had to spend the next forty years living on the edges of a wilderness. Again, if our pride is hurt we fall into anger. “Do you see a man who speaks in haste ? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Provs. 29:20). And a husband who clams up and will not apologise to his wife for an angry outburst before they go to sleep has also fallen into wicked anger. We might prefer to have a discussion about legitimate anger, but God is pressing us to go down on our knees and confess to him and one another our sins of anger. I fear our fine debates about righteous anger become a loophole in which we hide the convictions of our conscience.
I want the biblical warnings about anger to rub my conscience that they may prevent me from ever being angry. I never want to be angry again. James says, “man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (v.19). How is God honoured, and our own Christian lives strengthened, and the church advanced, and the world saved, and the Bible become easier to understand by our anger ?
Consider some of the ill-consequences of anger: 1. Anger hinders men’s prayers. I Timothy 2:8, “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.” How can you speak to a loving merciful God when your heart is seething with anger ? 2. Anger gives the devil a foothold in your life by filling you with guilt and destroying your walk with God. Ephesians 4:26 “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” 3. Anger is frequently out of control and leads to other sins. Proverbs 29:22, “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.” 4. Anger keeps bad company. Ephesians 4:21 tells us that anger keeps company with bitterness, rage, brawling, slander, and all kinds of malice. That’s a grim gang. 5. Anger is incompatible with the teaching of the Lord Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount he says, “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also … I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you … I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool,’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matthew 5:39, 44, 22). 6. Anger usurps the role of God who is the only judge. If you’re under pressure the only response is patience, meekness and endurance, not retaliation. Think of the Lord Jesus: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate: when he suffered, he made no threats” (1 Peter 2:23). He was the lamb not a wolf. We are to be a congregation of lambs. The only hope for the future of the church in fiercely Islamic lands is that it remembers its Lord has sent it out as sheep amidst wolves.
James is telling us here you have to choose between achieving the righteousness of God or giving in to the anger of man. You have to choose between going for the blessedness of the peacemaker or the strife of rage. You cannot have them both. You can have your anger and go to hell, or you can be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry and go to heaven. Getting angry does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Anger does not meet with God’s approval, but righteous living does.
2 ATTAINING THE RIGHTEOUS LIFE IN OUR DAILY EXPERIENCE
I think that there are in this passage three exhortations to gaining victory over such sins as anger, and attaining the righteous life. We have no alternative but to heed them. We have to change. God expects change. That’s why we have the Bible. There is this insistence in Christianity on changing people by the Scriptures – rebuking, correcting, instructing ourselves in righteousness in order that men of God be perfect (2 Tim.3:16 & 17).
1. Be slow in becoming angry. Stop ! Think ! Why are you so angry ? Analyse your life in terms of your anger. What is it that makes you angry ? How many minutes are you angry in a week, and why ? Much of our anger is caused by our being in a hurry. We might have to slow down physically. When you are in a hurry to get to church, or to get to work, and traffic is slow in pulling out of your side-road, you become angry. At what ? An inanimate object like a red light, or a cautious old lady going to church ? You are just angry, and you are the loser.
The key idea for handling anger is simple: we should be slow in becoming angry. Of course ! When you feel your irritation rising, you have most of the battle won if you can buy some time for yourself by introducing slowness into the situation. Because once you do that the anger itself vanishes or it takes a form so different from what it was earlier that you don’t recognise it. You see, one of the major characteristics of our anger is the sheer speed with which it makes its appearance. We speak of anger ‘flaring up’ and ‘igniting’ – like a match put to some paraffin. We say that someone ‘erupted’ with rage, or ‘he exploded with anger.’ There are certain people who are nice one minute and the next have flown off the handle. Suddenly you are furious. All our emotions are fast but the fastest is anger. So when the Bible talks about being slow to anger it is talking about an approach that will control anger, and defuse it, and help us to avoid the destruction that anger can cause. If we slow things down, for example, we can avoid misunderstandings. We think we know what people are going to say because we have known them so long, and so we jump to conclusions about them and that makes them angry with us. Go slow. Don’t jump to conclusions and say some things you may live to regret.
2. Get rid of all the sin in your life. “Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent” (v.21). The verb is the same one used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament book of Zechariah where the High Priest discovers himself to be covered in dirty clothes, and he is being accused by Satan. Then an angel speaks; “Take off his filthy clothes” (3:4). If all your clothes are stinking you can’t be selective and take off some of them, and put on fresh clean clothes, for example, on top of stinking undergarments. They all need to be removed, and you need to be washed before you put on clean clothes.
So it is with this particular sin of anger. The apostle Paul has shown us that it is part of a whole family of sins and they all have to be dealt with. The greatest of all English theologians, John Owen, points out that we will not get rid of any sin unless we sincerely and diligently seek to deal with every sin. We are not given the option of deciding which sin in our lives needs to be got rid of. Unless we are committed to dealing with each and every sin in our lives we will never succeed in getting the victory over any of them. Imagine a foolish medieval yokel going into battle and saying, “I am only going to worry about arrows,” and he pays no attention to spears, and swords, and crossbows, and maces, and bludgeons, and cannon, and knights with lances. That man will be a dead man before he knows it. He is battling with many dangers not one.
Imagine a young Christian who has brought into the Kingdom of God with him a fearful temper, and this troubles him. It repeatedly defeats him and plagues him so that he longs for complete deliverance. Not only that, but he actually strives against it, prays and mourns when he is defeated by his anger. But at the same time there are other duties in the Christian life that he doesn’t take very seriously, and other sins to which he is turning a blind eye. He is attempting to kill some sins only. This is, in theological terms, selective mortification. What he has to learn is to hate sin as sin, not only the disturbing consequences of his anger. Our Saviour bore all the guilt of all our sins and shame. When we love the Christ of the cross we will declare war on all the sins he bore. Otherwise to select anger only is to be moved by self-love, because our anger is bothering our peace and our sense of well-being. You are just battling with your anger (or whatever particular sin that besets you) simply to regain your composure.
There are other sins in your life other than anger. Jesus bled for those sins too. Why don’t you make an effort to conquer them also ? Don’t live at peace with any of them. Do you really expect the Holy Spirit to help you get rid of anger when you show no concern to deal with the other sins that grieve him as much ? If you concentrate all your efforts on one sin because that troubles you then God will leave you to struggle on in your own strength The commandment is “get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent.” That is the theme of all Scripture, for example, 2 Corinthians 7:1 “let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates the body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”
I think God can employ sinful anger in a Christian as a means of chastening him. Anger can become a plague and a burden to us and the reason is that we have grown careless and lukewarm in the faith. We are not taking seriously the warnings of Scripture. God is using our sinful anger to chasten us for our disobedience, and he is awakening us to consider just where are we spiritually, “You, a Christian, behaving like this ?” he is saying. God is calling us to get rid of “all moral filth and the evil that is prevalent.” Then there are actual times when God may even use the plague of a sinful temper to prevent or cure some other evil. The apostle Peter was left to shout and swear in a rage denying his Lord as an indispensable means of correcting his over-confidence in himself.
So to be delivered from anger and to achieve the righteous life you must know that every other sinful desire is like a piece of filthy clothing in the nostrils of God. John Owen says, “As long as there is a treacherous heart that is prepared to neglect the need for obedience in every area, there is a weak soul that is not allowing faith its whole work.” Anyone bothered with anger and refusing to deal with all his other sins has no right to expect success conquering his rages.
3. Humbly accept the word planted in you. You have a divine word, and it is planted in your life. It came at the conception of your spiritual life, when you became a believing member of God’s family. That word is God-breathed, and it can thoroughly equip you for every good work. When every person is born from above that word is planted in their lives. There is not one Christian who is aware of all the consequences of that. You simply “opened your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ,” or you prayed, “God save me.” How ever you expressed your need of Jesus Christ the divine answer was exceeding abundantly above all you asked for. God planted his word in within you. James is pleading with us here to accept that word. Welcome its presence. Strengthen and educate it. Read the Bible, and sit under the best ministry you can, and read the finest books that will help you. Do not resist it and then the word will lead you into new thoughts, and they in turn into new habits that move out into your life from within you. The key to change is your willingness to accept the planted word. Only a person in whose life is planted the word of God is capable of overcoming a single sin. Without the aid of the Spirit and the word we are powerless and ignorant.
How does James describe your acceptance ? “Humbly,” he says. That is the required attitude – with meekness, and teachableness, and submission. While you resist it, that is, while you fidget and whisper and refuse to listen to the preaching you are not going to conquer your anger, or any other sin. The reason is obvious – you are grieving the Spirit. There is an indivisible union between the Spirit and the Bible. The Spirit works through the Bible being joyfully heard and obeyed. Don’t expect change apart from the word. Are you humbly accepting the word ? By loving that word you will change.
Jay Adams points out how we have already learned how to control our anger – in a few seconds. For example, we have lost our temper with a member of the family and we are ranting at them and flashing our eyes in rage, and suddenly the door-bell goes, and it’s the minister coming in, or the phone rings and it’s your boss, and you have suddenly controlled your tongue, and calmed your anger. You knew you could not act like that with your preacher watching you, or carry on raving away on the telephone to your managing director, but, you thought you could get away with it at home. You have learned to control yourself in one situation, and you have learned not to do it in another. So, who counts the most in your life ? The preacher ? Your boss ? Or your wife and children ? What counts the most in your life, the word planted in you ? Or your anger ? Humbly accept that word !
Bring your conscience to that word. Pray for the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, that he would use the law of God to convince you of the greatness of your guilt. Let the terror of God’s law sink into your conscience. Think of how righteous God would be if he punished you for every time you were angry. Don’t allow your deceitful heart to argue that God’s law cannot condemn you because you ‘are not under the law but under grace.’ Tell your conscience that as long as unmortified evil desire remains in your heart you can have no valid assurance that you are free from its condemning power. God has implanted the word to condemn your every act of sin. God’s law is meant to expose the guilt of a believer’s sin just as much as any other person’s sin. God’s law is meant to awaken you to the guilt of your anger so that you might humble yourself and deal with it. Humbly accept the word ! If you do this it will make you tremble and bring you to your knees. If you really want to put to death anger and all your sinful attitudes, let the law of God disturb your conscience until you are convinced of your desires. Don’t be content before you can say with repentant David, “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.”
Or think how that word speaks to you of Christ your great High Priest in heaven. Think about his merciful, tender, kindly nature. Be sure that he pities you in your distress. Remember that the Lord Jesus has the tenderness of a mother to her infant child. Remember that because he himself has suffered he is able to aid those who are tempted. He felt the heat of men’s anger, and so he knows your pain that you have directed your anger to other people.
That implanted word especially tells you of the death of Christ, and the fundamental reason for putting to death sinful anger is the death of Christ, The great aim of the death of Christ was to “redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” He died to free us from the power of our sins and to purify us from every sinful desire that defiles us. Focus your faith on Christ as he is set forth in the gospel as dying and crucified for us. Look on him as he prays, bleeds and dies under the weight of your sin. By faith humbly accept this crucified Saviour to control all your life. By faith apply his blood to all your sinful desire. Make this a daily practice. This is what it means to humbly accept the word planted in you.
It can “save you,” James says (v.21). That is how our text closes. That is, obeying the word can save you from anger, or from any sin. There is no need that anyone go on crippled through life by a sin that is twisting and destroying them. Do the three things that James says, (1) be slow in becoming angry, (2) get rid of all the sin in your life, and (3) humbly accept the word planted in you. You will be saved from deep-rooted sins, and long established patterns of conduct that hurt you can be eradicated. The word can save you from the sins that beset you.
But the word can save you from hell. God has every right to send me to hell; he has ever right to send you to hell. We are sinners who deserve eternal death. But God, in his love, has chosen to take care of our sins by sending his only son to die for our sins. God’s love is marvellous because it is totally effective. It is this love, shown in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, that is presented by the Bible and celebrated among Christians.
Do you believe in this Jesus Christ as your Saviour ? Do you ? I ask you this directly, and I challenge you to face this question squarely. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ ? If you have never believed in him and asked him to become your Saviour, it is my happy task to urge you to do so. This word can save you. Once it has been planted into your heart and life it will start to change you. Once you know you are a forgiven sinner you will start forgiving others. You will get rid of all moral filth, and you will be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
God has every reason to be angry with us; yet he saves us. Now, instead of anger, we need to develop love and joy and peace and gentleness. You have had long-term anger deep inside you that has to get out of your system. You may be a person who is making life miserable for yourself and for everyone around you by the way you act. The living Christ can change you. He can change you by overwhelming you with such love if you confess your sins and turn to him in faith. He can change you by sending his holy word and planting it in your heart by the power of his Spirit. Our loving God, who has taken from us all the guilt of our anger and placed it on his dear Son and condemned it in him, now asks us to be kind and compassionate and forgiving as we live together. It is his amazing grace that can enable us to be that way.
GEOFFREY THOMAS. September 6 1998