You must understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, for human anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
But be doers of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
If any think they are religious and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.
Richard M. Nixon
There’s not a few things to be angry about and hate these days. And that’s surely true any time, just ratcheted up now. If you don’t react with anger and grief over many things, then you’re not human.
James doesn’t tell us in the above passage not to be angry. And it seems to me to be in the context of human relations into which James is speaking. We’re told to be slow to anger, and that human anger does not produce God’s righteousness.
We can’t live on anger and hate. I find myself believing that I don’t hate the people, but just what they do. That might be true at least to a significant extent, but does anything they do or say get under our skin, so that it becomes personal, and we hold it against them? If so, we’re probably off the green and onto the yellow or red.
As we’ve all probably found out to some extent, and some as in the quote above on public display, anger easily can at least border on hate, and if we’re living on those fumes, it neither helps ourselves or others. We end up going down. I certainly know that firsthand.
It’s far from enough just to abstain from this anger and the hate which so easily accompanies it. If we do that and that’s it, then our faith and religion according to James is empty. We have to act according to God’s word, which means we act in love for God, for our neighbor, for those in need, even for our enemies.
We remember that what we hate is not that far removed from ourselves. There are things in or about us or what we do which are also hate-worthy. We’re all in need of God’s grace. We extend that grace to all others, even the ones we consider totally undeserving, just bad, even dangerous.
We hate all that is wrong, but abstain from expressing such hate to those who are not loving. We do not do as they do, but instead we commit ourselves to living in love. Doing just what needs to be done, including what needs to be said but with careful wisdom, in that love only. And when we are not animated by that, we hold ourselves back and do nothing until we can get our proper bearings.
Avoiding the destructive anger and hate which will help no one. And committing ourselves to the love with which we’re helped to help all others.
(I’m having trouble linking right now.)