Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
If you follow the news even slightly, you will encounter all too frequently horrifying shootings, such as:
• Two journalists on assignment in Virginia.
• Some workers having a Christmas party in California.
• Military recruiters doing their job in an office in Tennessee.
• Elementary school students and teachers at a school in Connecticut.
These shootings are always horrifying, and whenever they happen, there are always scores of societal and political analysts who weigh in on the tragedies. However, I dare to venture into those waters. The solution to why these things happen aren’t social or political anyway. As with all problems that confront mankind, what we see play out in headlines and on televisions across the country has deep, spiritual roots.
In James 1, we are reminded to “…be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” (James 1:19-21)
Mass shootings are always the work of very angry people who tend to wear their their sleeve. They generally refuse to listen to wise counsel or reason, and faith is never the byword for their lives. Rather, they are led by hate and rage, and a desire to set things right, regardless of the cost. Sadly, these people usually have some sort of talent or skill that they could share with the word. Instead, the shooters will be remembered for a last, angry, desperate act.
Every day, each of us encounters things that upset us. We live in an imperfect world filled with imperfect people. At some point, we will get short-changed, have something stolen, get cut off in traffic or have someone say something mean and hurtful to us. But James reminds us of a spiritual remedy to help us stay centered, regardless of what life brings our way – use your ears to not just hear, but to really listen. Don’t be in a hurry to say exactly what’s on your mind. And always – always – slow down the anger that wants to rise up within.
This week, as you encounter the best and the worst that the world has to offer, remember to follow God’s pathway to righteousness rather than trying to “set things straight” our own way. Dwell on the word of God and let Him direct your steps as you try to pursue His perfect ways.
Reflection copyright © 2016 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.