James, the Lord's brother, wrote in his letter in the New Testament,
"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 that God requires." (1:19-20)
All too often, I'm an angry guy. I like to fly off the handle, give knee-jerk reactions, jump to conclusions, and all sorts of things angry people do. Now, if you know me, you probably don't know me as an angry guy. That's usually because we associate anger with loudness (screaming) and fuming. Honestly, I do that more than I would like to admit. But at least it isn't usually seen by most of you.
But I think anger, as James means it, is more than that. I should say, it's deeper than that. In my brief study of the Greek word (I've studied Greek, but I'm no Greek scholar) the word anger here means 'acting on impulse with displeasure.'
As James brings up anger in his unimprovably practical letter, he seems to point to a kind of anger that comes quickly without first understanding. That makes sense when we see he puts anger in the context of other things. Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. (Open your ears, shut your mouth, and restrain your impulse to freak out.) Isn't James making it clear that a quick anger is wrong because that person has failed to listen and understand before reacting impulsively? I think so.
I think this fits well with my post on Christian cultural commentators, who all too often react impulsively. No, they may not seem angry as we often describe it, but the impulsiveness of their displeasure is the kind of anger I think James is talking about.
It's like jumping down our kid's throat about spilling their cereal instead of realizing they are just little kids who make mistakes and don't have the same kind of control and thoughtfulness about their cereal as adults do. When we understand that first, we can teach them control calmly and compassionately.
God doesn't react over our "spilled cereal" with anger, and we shouldn't respond to the culture, our friends and family, new ideas, or most anything else that way. We should restrain impulses, which are so often based on misunderstandings, and try to listen and understand.
Understanding before making judgments produces the righteousness God desires in us and our churches.