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  • Jason Wilson

Friday Devotion: How does faith work when you are angry? 

No matter where you look these days, it seems everyone is itching for a fight. From trashy tabloids to talk radio to the dark depths of internet comments, our culture is soaked in outrage. We've all got that argumentative lawyer living rent-free in our hearts, just waiting to object. Whether we're bellowing our wrath or keeping it bottled up inside, the trap of rage has got us. 

So James lays down the law: zip it. Chill out. Bite your tongue. Walk away before you even get started. Otherwise, that faith of yours is worthless.

As someone who has shoved their foot firmly down their throat more times than I can count, James' advice hits home for me. Got any texts, emails, posts, voicemails, or conversations you wish you could take back after you cooled off? Yeah, me too.  

See, James knew anger can make Christians lose their way. He told us to listen, speak carefully, express anger constructively, stay pure, and examine ourselves, so we don't get deceived. I've learned the hard way that our first reaction usually comes from the flesh. Responding in the Spirit takes more time. 

Don't get me wrong, James wasn't afraid of hard truths or just spewing Hallmark cards. He wanted to keep trials from becoming temptations with his wisdom on speech and obedience. Let anger take control, and you won't really listen or avoid sinning in your rage. As Proverbs 15:1 puts it, "A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare." God cares more about winning the person than winning the argument. For that, we've got to watch not just what we say, but how and when.

Religion talks a big game but doesn't deliver. James flips the script - our actions speak louder than words about what we really believe. Judas preached, prayed, and sang alongside Jesus and the other disciples while robbing them blind. Talk about hypocrisy! 

As Christians, if we say we believe God's Word, then we've got to live by it. Otherwise, we become hypocrites, quick to point out the speck in others' eyes while ignoring the lumberyard in our own. Just reading or listening to the Word isn't enough. We've got to meditate on it and let it change us, or as James put it, our "religion is worthless." Some need more information - more reading, studying, learning. But most need more obedience - acting on what we already know before moving on. 

We might know the Bible back to front, but our actions show what we truly believe. As Charles Spurgeon memorably said, "If your religion does not make you holy, it will damn you." Harsh, but true. 

So let's get practical. Going to the gym means nothing without working out. Buying vitamins means nothing without taking them. Having a seatbelt means nothing without buckling up. And owning a Bible means nothing without obeying it.

What do you know that you need to start doing, or stop doing, and you simply need to obey and make it happen? 


James 1:19

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