Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. – James 1:19-20
Today’s anger often equals rage, petulance, fury, belligerence, tantruming, confrontation, outrage…
Today I’m continuing the series of posts tying in with messages from Sunday morning. This week Rebekah talked about The Deadly Sin of Anger. These sermons are all worth taking time to hear and you will find links below.
Typically I leave church with several insightful takeaways to share. This week there were two. The first had to so with self-righteousness and the second opened up the Garden of Eden story like never before
The trap of self-righteousness:
I’ll begin with Rebekah’s observation that we tend to hold – all of us to some extent – this delusion that our anger is always the “righteous” kind. But the sad truth is that we left a word out, and the anger we hold is mostly self-righteous. And this, of course, leads us right back where we started – where we always start – back to pride, the original of the original sins.
I believe this is important because we will find self-righteous anger at the heart of so much religious, political and social discourse.
We live in a world where much of human interaction is defined by outrage. People get outraged when someone disagrees with them, when the waiter brings water without a piece of lemon, when another driver slows us down, when we don’t get our own way.
It’s a kind of anger inflation. When we are outraged in response to our own inconvenience what do we have left for things that really matter?
But when we remove the centrality of self from the equation, when we apply the balm of humility, when we remember to listen… we tend to find out that we have something to learn from one another, that we are not the only people who feel strongly about things, that the only righteousness that counts is – as James put it – the righteousness of God.
God’s Righteousness (and the Garden of Eden):
So that was my second takeaway. She talked about what makes God angry. And when we understand what makes God angry then maybe we can put our own self-interested outrage in perspective.
- God is angry when we do not bear fruit. Rebekah pointed out a marvelous truth from the Creation Story that rang more true for me than any other reading I have ever heard. God invited Adam and Eve to live full and creative lives, bearing fruit and multiplying the goodness and the love and the promise God had placed within them. They were instructed to be fruitful. But instead of bearing fruit (for the world) they ate fruit (for themselves). Did you see that? Instead of multiplying they consumed. Instead of bearing fruit they stole fruit. Instead of loving the world they loved themselves.
- Then, God is angry when we abuse and neglect the vulnerable.
- God is angry at the self-righteous.
I may go back and write more about this, and especially the idea of bearing fruit. Rebekah’s sermon series is going to include “Anger.2” because we simply ran out of time, and I’m in the same position with this post.
So here they are, the first three messages: