“…for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20)
Why do we need to guard our tongues? James alerts us to the danger they pose. On the negative side, we want to guard against destruction. On the positive side, we want our speech to contribute to the ambitions God has for us. James describes that goal as “the righteousness that God requires.”
In other words, we are not to defend our rights but to defend God’s righteousness. Often, we react and lash out because what we perceive to be our rights have been trod upon. That parking spot was ours; we saw it first. The promotion should have been ours not the person who has been at the company two years less than we have.
James, however, points us not to what we want but to the service of our God and deference to His purposes. The Lord Jesus is our model. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:3–5).
Jesus adopted a posture of submission to the will of His Father. He did not grasp His rights but relinquished them in service to the will of God.
James alerts us to the fact that being quick to anger and quick to speak more often than not centers on self and seeks the glory of self rather than the glory of Christ and the righteousness of God.
In essence, James asks us what our ambition is in the actions we take. Anger is a motivating emotion that often rushes blindly forward. James calls attention to our target and reminds us that as ones who bear the name of Jesus our objective needs to be the honor of our God.
“Father, grant me the mind of Christ.”