by: Pastor David Huffstutler
James 1:19–21 pits being anger against the humble reception of God’s Word. Anger accomplishes nothing righteous, and humility allows us to receive God’s Word, that which saves our souls. The following surveys anger and humility in the New Testament and the wisdom books to understand them further.
Anger: Anger (orgē) can be righteous at times. “Be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Jesus was angry with His unloving, self-righteous opponents (Mark 3:5), and He angrily cleared the temple more than once (John 2:13–17; Matthew 21:12–13). Paul was agitated in his spirit when he saw idolatry around him (Acts 17:16). We are not Jesus or Paul, however, and our anger is typically sinful. (And even Paul could lose his temper—see Acts 23:3.) Anger is something to put away (Colossians 3:8; Ephesians 4:31) and keep out of the worship of the church (1 Timothy 2:8). It shouldn’t be characteristic of pastors (Titus 1:7) or anyone else.
From the wisdom books, we learn that anger stems from the heart (Ecclesiastes 7:9) and shows itself through a quick temper and lack of personal restraint (Proverbs 14:17, 29; 29:11, 20). The angry man brings penalties upon himself (Proverbs 19:19), and his anger provokes further anger, transgression, and strife (Proverbs 15:1, 18; 29:22; 30:33). Believers can neither help nor befriend a man persistently given to anger (Proverbs 19:19; 22:24–25).
Instead, believers should be slow to anger and give a soft answer to the anger of others (Proverbs 15:1, 18; 29:8). This slowness to anger shows good sense, knowledge, understanding, and inner strength (Proverbs 14:28; 16:32; 17:27; 19:11).
Humility: Instead of being angry, believers should receive the Word of God with humility (prautēs, sometimes translated “meekness”). Humility does not speak evil of people or seek out quarrels with others (Titus 3:2). Instead, it accompanies gentleness (2 Corinthians 10:1; Ephesians 4:2; Titus 3:2), fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23), and other Christian virtues (Colossians 3:12). It must be present when explaining our hope in Christ (1 Peter 3:15), correcting an opponent (2 Timothy 2:25), or restoring a transgressing brother (Galatians 6:1). Related words describe Jesus (Matthew 11:29; 21:5), those who will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5), and the heart of a godly wife (1 Peter 3:4).
From Proverbs, we learn that humility keeps one from God’s scorn, disgrace, and destruction (Proverbs 3:34; 11:2; 18:12). Humility does not breed scorn or pride toward others (Proverbs 3:34; 11:2; 18:12). Humility stems from a righteous fear of the Lord (Proverbs 15:33; 22:4), shows one to be wise (Proverbs 11:2), and is said to bring favor from God (Proverbs 3:34), as well as honor, riches, and life (Proverbs 15:33; 22:4).