Control Your Temper
For most of my adult life I have been a senior pastor. I was privileged to serve four churches in that role and given the opportunity to preach regularly. Preaching is one of my favorite things. Currently I serve as an associate pastor in a much larger church and the opportunity to preach is much less frequent, but last Sunday, while our senior pastor was on vacation I preached the Sunday morning sermon.
My love of preaching will likely not make sense to most people because a fear of public speaking, is one of the most common phobias, but to me preaching is a great privilege and joy. Most Sundays for the past 35 years I have been in the pulpit. I love sermon topics that are relevant and meaningful. Last week’s message focused on how we can overcome anger with prayer. I became very convinced my topic was appropriate after learning how common anger is today.
Several reputable national polls taken about anger between 2016 and 2019 were studied by the Christian website, Revival Outside the Walls. Based on those polls the organization reported the following facts: 1) 48% of Americans said they were angrier the year they filled out the survey than they had ever been in the past. 2) 71% of Americans said they get angry at least once a day and, 3) 31% of those surveyed said they get “really angry” every day (“really angry” was defined as seething or boiling.)
Considering how each of the surveys was done before the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically began affecting our lives, it is safe to assume the level of anger in America is even higher now.
All of us have had moments when we lost our temper and said things we regretted. However, each of us would be much better off if we asked God to help us control our temper.
We would do well to remember the wise words from the apostle James. “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, NLT)
It is that final statement which most captures my attention, “Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” I was fascinated to learn the Greek word translated here as “righteousness” can also be translated “justice.” James’ point is that our temper does not produce the justice God desires. Our anger never makes things better, it consistently makes them worse.
Many times after I have been angry I recall wishing I had said less. I never remember wishing I had said more. You and I will be better the next time we feel ourselves becoming angry if we simply take James’ advice to listen more, talk less and refuse to let our temper control us.