James 1:19-21 (NKJV)19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Excuses, as they say, are a dime a dozen. At no time do excuses range more freely than when we are angry. Like cattle freed from the stockade, when we are angry excuses start pouring out the open doorway of our lips and become a stampede trampling down any hapless victim who happens to confront us for our sin. But as the stampede makes its way precipitously forward the excuses confront the granite wall of James’ declaration – the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. And when the bovine excuse finds itself charging the wall its has two choices – veer out of the way and continue its rowdy course into the distance or hurl itself against the wall and die.
And so what of us? Are we pouring out excuses for our anger? That kid just won’t listen. My boss is too damn hard on me. My wife won’t have sex when I want to. My husband didn’t lead family devotions yesterday. My mom and dad spoke harshly to me. And so our anger rises, the blood boils, the face becomes red. And then our Lord places before us the granite wall – the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God – now what do we do? Do we veer out of the way, avoid the word of God, and continue in our rampage? Or do we instead crash headlong into the text and let it kill us? Let it kill our anger? Jesus declared, “He who desires to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow after me.” Let him die.
Have you been a disciple of Christ this week? Have you killed yourself on the Word of God? Slain your excuses for getting angry and sought forgiveness for your sin? Or have you avoided the Word of God instead and offered up your litany of reasons why it is just for you to get angry? Let us kneel and let us confess that we are often quick to anger and more foolish than a rampaging bull.