As we approach the end of chapter 1 of James we are given some pretty clear directives. Characteristics of a follower of Christ. It is interesting for me to consider the fact that before I was born-again, I was the exact opposite of these characteristics. Not only did I get extremely angry and out of control, I considered it a “virtue”. Not only did I not care what most people said, I was convinced that I what I had to say was most important.
James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
I am very thankful that God has freed me from “the biggies” that consumed my days before He saved me. To maintain a “G Rating” let's just say, I no longer go places I shouldn't go or do things I shouldn't do; however, it is not God's desire that He prune out some garbage and leave some behind. His Word makes it clear, the old is gone and the new has come:
Ephesians 4:21-24 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
All throughout Scripture the “biggies” in our life leap of the page; like sexual immorality and passion; however, we tend to look past some....at least I do....or I should say, I did. He has really convicted me over the last couple years that my anger needs to go away. I need to be more self-controlled when it comes to getting upset. I would get upset to the point where I didn't even consider the consequences of my words and actions, and that is not a characteristic of a Godly man. As a matter of fact, I told my wife January 1st that I would not get angry in 2011; then I half jokingly said, “and your new years resolution is to not provoke me to anger.” Isn't that just like human nature, blame somebody else. “I won't get angry any more if you don't make me mad.”
The same is true in controlling our tongue. Controlling our tongue is not just in cases of anger. We need to be self-controlled when it comes to gossip, crude joking and slander as well:
Matthew 15:18-20 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone."
2Corinthians 12:20-21 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish--that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.
Ephesians 4:29-32 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Colossians 3:5-10 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.