Would you bear with another “mom at the ballgame” story? Our Christianity is meant to be lived out loud so when I see a lesson in action, I can’t help but want to share it with you.
The Bible says, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). I’ve meditated on this scripture many times (for obvious reasons) so it’s no wonder it came rolling out of my spirit after last night’s basketball game.
Varsity boys basketball can be aggressive and high-paced. It’s a little of what attracts boys to play and fans to watch. In other words, it’s expected. But I’ve gotten more than a little agitated at times when the referees let the game escalate and get out of control. Fortunately that wasn’t the case this time. However, in a fast paced break for a layup by one of our players, a big burly senior from the other team got frustrated and openly shoved him into the padded goal pole. I don’t know how to describe it other than to say our player looked like a rag doll that had been thrown against the wall in a temper tantrum.
Needless to say, the boy got a technical as our player limped off the court.
BUT… this momma was on her feet (with the rest of our crowd) yelling for the boy to be sat down. And in all honesty, I thought he should’ve been sent to the locker room for the night. My husband was sitting beside me, saying, “Daphne, sit down. Daphne, sit. down.”
Hmmmff. I was mad. But I realized two things: one, there is such a thing as righteous indignation (anger that stems from something unrighteous –like turning a ballgame into a brawl); and two, there is such a thing as anger that doesn’t produce righteousness.
I know this is why the Bible says “…be slow to wrath.” It’s important for us to know the difference–AND act accordingly.
The Amplified Bible says, “Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry. For man’s anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires].” The quick-to-hear part is directly related to our ability to hear the Holy Spirit (or our spouse) when he says, “Sit down.” Slow to speak of course deals with our tongue and what we’re letting our anger say in the moment (and I stress the word let). But it’s the slow-to-take-offense command that really strikes a nerve.
What we have to understand is that the righteousness the Bible is speaking of is the standard God gives to believers that belongs to God Himself. We could say this righteousness is God-like righteousness (which is received at salvation, but that’s another message). In short, our anger doesn’t produce Godlikeness. And boy, did I know that at the ballgame. Another momma told me later she was looking across the court to the other crowd, yelling, “Bring it on!” because that’s how we all felt in the moment. Our flesh wanted to take action.
I thank God He knows us better than we know ourselves! [Tweet “Righteousness is not only something to be known, but something to be done.”] It is the quality of God that makes Him full of love, peace, and patience, but it is also the nature of God that makes Him angry at injustice. However, He knows the difference (and acts accordingly) while we sometimes need His help (like me at the game).
The bottom line is, what God requires is what God is.
I want to be like my Father. I want to represent Him all the time, and everywhere. So I’m thankful for God’s Word that reins us in and reminds us who we are when we’ve had a momentarily loss of identity!
Take some time to meditate on James 1:19-20. I hope you won’t need it anytime soon, but you never know…