James, the half-brother of Jesus was a very practical apostle and his book is quite realistic when it comes to every day issues of life. He was tired of people professing and talking without any actions to back up what they said. He writes to correct the myth that we are saved by grace but no works, as to what we should do now that we are saved.
Christians were going through persecution and very difficult times and he encourages them with practical advice on the steps they needed to take to move to the next level of faith and God’s blessings. I cannot begin to think or talk about the kind of difficulties that people all over the world have gone through in the wake of Covid-19 Pandemic and its negative consequences.
And many people are so depressed, frustrated, exhausted and angry! They have lost jobs, businesses, careers, family members, friends and some cannot cater for their basic needs. People have done horrible things to each other out of uncontrolled anger. Women, for instance, have a very strong and special bond with their children as nurturers. So when you see women inflict so much harm and pain on their own child to a point of killing them; it speaks volumes - something is very wrong.
In the case of anger, James advices, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). The emotion of anger is quite misunderstood, misinterpreted and dealt with in the wrong way. In Kenya for example, there is stereotyping of certain tribes as being prone to anger and we tend to tolerate them on this account.
Right now there are high levels of anger, tension, frustration and despair in Kenya because of the prevailing negative economic, social, political and health conditions. Amid all this, we need to control our anger because its consequences are far worse than its triggers. Daily there are reports by the media of murders committed in moments of uncontrolled anger - parents their own children, spouses, siblings, lovers, friends and business associates.
Anybody who does not manage anger God calls them a fool! Do you know the damage you have caused or mess you have got yourself into or losses you have incurred or people you have hurt because of anger? For example, your children may not beat or tell or answer you back but let me tell you; if you have been so angry with them and mistreated them in any way, they will resent and hate you. They will pull back (retreat) and not be your friend.
- Being a parent of a sleepwalking child is terrifying
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- If you cannot take care of children, don't sire them
- Tough love: When does a parent say enough is enough?
How do you manage anger? First, count the cost of uncontrolled anger. Anger causes mistakes and makes you lose respect. The book of Proverbs puts it very well: “An angry or wrathful man stirs up strife and a furious man abounds in transgression or sin; but whoever is slow to anger or wrath allays contention and has great understanding; but the impulsive exalts folly. A quick-tempered man acts foolishly and a man of wicked intentions is hated.”
Second, resolve to control your anger. A fool vents all his feelings but a wise man holds them back. Anger management according to the book of James has three steps: Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. There is a saying that ‘you have one mouth to speak less and two ears to listen twice as much’. You have to reach a point where you say, I am not going to be a fool, enough is enough, and I am in control here. What is there to brag or gain about anger?
Words are like feathers: a story is told of a man who went up a mountain with a bag of feathers. When he got to the top, he opened the bag and since it was so windy; the feathers scattered all over the place and down the valley. Someone asked him to pick them all up but it was impossible. This is what happens when you speak careless words in moments of anger. You can never take them back! You will only be filled with regret. Be careful of anger and bridle it like you would a horse - pull it back. This way you will be a great and happy person.
Third, reprogramme yourself or unlearn how you demonstrate or project your anger. We all learn from someone ways of demonstrating or projecting the emotion of anger. The Bible admonishes us not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we may prove what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
The book of Proverbs says, “Make no friendship with an angry person and do not go with a furious person; lest you learn their ways and set a snare for your soul. Whoever troubles his own house will inherit the wind, and the fool will be a servant to the wise of heart.”
Finally, ask God to fill your heart with love. “Love suffers long and is kind. It does not envy nor parade itself. It is not puffed up nor does it behave rudely. It does not seek its own nor is it provoked. It thinks neither evil nor does it rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in truth. It bears, believes, hopes and endures all things”
(1st Corinthians 13:4-6).
It is my prayer that God will give you the wisdom and grace to manage anger and fill your heart with love.