James 1:19-20, 26 – “…everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; 20 for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God…26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, yet does not bridle his tongue…this person’s religion is worthless. James 3:8-9 – “…no one among mankind can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people, who have been made in the likeness of God” (NASB)
Anyone who listens to the news today understands James’ warning about anger and the power of words to do a great deal of damage. We have all been injected by poisonous words in our personal lives as well. When someone hurts us, we impulsively want to hurt them in return creating hard hearts. In James 3:6, James says the tongue is set on fire by hell itself. In other words, satan wants to influence us to tear down and discourage others. Rather than being quick to try to hear and understand, he wants us to be rash and impulsive whenever we are irritated.
James reminds us that apart from God’s grace, no one can tame the tongue. Every day we must have our minds renewed by God’s promises and ask the Holy Spirit to put a filter over our mouths. For example, 1 Peter 2 tells us when Jesus was reviled, he did not revile in return; fully trusting His heavenly Father to do the judging. It help and comforts me to remember God will vindicate and God will judge. I need to rest in Him and pray for strength when being tempted to sin in my anger.
While satan wants to influence you to tear others down, the Holy Spirit is at work in believers to build others up. The main characteristic of a Spirit filled life is love that edifies others and gives them the benefit of the doubt. Whose image have you been reflecting? If we confess our sins, Jesus is faithful to not only forgive us but cleanse our hearts, making the overflow of our lips pure as well.
Heavenly Father, my Lord Jesus Christ, cleanse my heart of all malice, anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness. Forgive me for anytime I’ve tried to take my own vengeance. Fill my heart with your love and help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. In Jesus’ name, Amen.