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"Man's anger does not work the righteousness of God" James 1:20

Here is an excerpt from an email that might be helpful. The above rendering of James 1:20 is from the KJV. For a more detailed discussion, see the page On Anger.

3. I would like to go deeper. Might there also be a problem with your anger? I have sensed over the years that you have an inner anger. Sometimes this motivates you to good things. But sometimes, on a couple of occasions, I have sensed that your anger is what James 1:20 calls "the anger of man" which "does not work the righteousness of God" [KJV]. To understand the difference, it is useful to understand the latter first.

The latter indicates not just "righteous life that God desires" as the NIV has it, but a broader righteousness and justice around us. We Brits differentiate righteousness as personal and justice as societal but the Greek word, 'dikaios', does not. (If you want to check this out, you might find my calculations on "" useful; it applies to the Hebrew word, 'tsedeq', as well as the Greek.) All through the Bible God's people are called and expected to promote this 'dikaios' and 'tsedeq'; Paul Marshall nicely defined them as "right relationships among all things in the created order". When we respond in a situation, we are called not just to respond to that situation but to take all things into account. (Indeed, is that not what is meant within 'wisdom'?) Our anger can be part of that response.

I am here treating 'anger' and 'wrath' synonymously, i.e. not the petty kind of anger we sometimes feel, but a response to wrongness or injustice. We can have two kinds of response to wrongness: man's anger and God's anger. The difference between them is difficult to explain in words, and probably can never be defined precisely. However, I have noticed in myself a difference of feel between 'man's anger' and God's anger.

Man's anger is often about wrongness done to me. Man's anger, even when not about wrongness done to me, is fuelled by my own views and hobby horses. Man's anger sometimes is fuelled by jealousy and by forms of insecurity. Man's anger shouts inside me, using an iron logic; it often elevates one aspect of the situation as the all-important one - and often recruits arguments that are valid in that aspect to support it. For example "If this is allowed to happen, then such and such disaster might occur." Man's anger often recruits fear to its aid, as we see from that example. Man's anger sometimes likes to disguise itself as sadness, but deep down the anger lurks. Man's anger is often made more, rather than less, intense by prayer; it even directs our prayers down certain channels. Man's anger has little peace in such prayer. Man's anger finds Scriptures that support it, and often wants to ignore Scriptures that don't support it.

Those are things that I have myself experienced. I find that my Asperger's Syndrome might make me more prone to it than others might be.

As a result, man's anger disrupts rather than heals situations - it is the soldier who destroys and kills rather than the surgeon who cuts in order to heal. Alternatively, man's anger goes the opposite direction and washes its hands of the situation, turning away in disgust; man's anger can make us quit situations. Man's anger puts people's backs up unnecessarily. I twice wrote a hastily-conceived email to my Vice Chancellor which were driven by my man's anger; they were given short shrift, and I saw later that they rightly deserved this. After that I have quit writing to him, which I think might be driven by man's anger.

The wrong to which man's anger is a response is genuine. It is the response within us to that wrong that is problematic. I find my Asperger steers me towards that kind of response. Man's anger is often an easier option than God's anger. God's anger requires making the effort to work through (and repent of) our layers of man's anger, and making the effort to find a genuinely non-angry response to the people who have wronged us.

End of excerpt.

For discussion of this, see On Anger.

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Copyright (c) Andrew Basden at all dates below. But you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

Part of his pages, that open up discussion and exploration from a Christian ('xn') perspective. Written on the Amiga with Protext.

Created: 22 March 2013 Last updated: 27 April 2014 rid ../, new .nav. 26 April 2017 Link to anger.html, new .end, .nav.