20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
~ Jas 1:20
James wrote a letter of correction to the brethren at large. He had many things to say about lusts causing wars and strife, the proper use of the tongue and anger.
There are denominations that teach that anger is wrong. Like some other things, they see an inherent evil in what comes naturally because they are used wrongfully. The Bible makes it clear that you can be angry without sinning.
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
~ Ep 4:26
However, more often, we humans justify our anger. An affront is made to our egos, our vanity, our pride or our dignity. This places the other person in the “wrong” in our minds, which of course means we are in the “right” — also in our minds.
However, is such anger that is focused on self truly righteous? I think we all know the answer.
We can look at a world built around self, and we can see the results of selfish anger. Anger can easily give way to rage, bitterness, jealousy, hatred, violence and outright war.
Paul wrote about the results of both anger and lust when he wrote to the Ephesians:
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Typically, don’t we read this list, and we look at the world, and we can see these things in action? Isn’t that how it usually works? The world pretty much takes all these things for granted. They are the result of a world cut off from God.
We see this existent in the racial strife evident in Ferguson, Missouri. We see this evident in century old fights in the Middle East. We see this raising its head even when something occurs that results in calls for “zero tolerance” towards anything (which inevitably results in some pretty radically ridiculous results, no matter how well intentioned the rules). in short, Paul is pretty much describing the world at large.
There is only one problem with that view, though. Paul was addressing the Church!
13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
~ vv 13-16
And, in reality, hasn’t this happened to and in the Church?
Where does backbiting and anger come from? Is not the cause self? Left coddled and fed regularly with arrogance, it turns into bitterness.
18 Arrogance leads to nothing but strife,
but wisdom is gained by those who take advice.
So, whenever I see news stories about how one side cannot forgive the other, or how someone feels justified in their actions when they have been “wronged” somehow (and especially when their actions go well beyond whatever wrong might or might not have occurred), when facts are conveniently ignored, or any other form of bitterness poisons attitudes and opinions, I think about how much better it will be when Satan’s influence will no longer exist.
However, I am saddened whenever I see someone who once was part of the Church separate off and create his own group, set himself up as someone special and engage in diatribes and insults against others that simply are not justified.
I also ponder the fate of people who would follow such a man. Will they be poisoned even as Amalek was poisoned by the bitterness of Esau towards Jacob? Will they become heretics by following someone like Simon Magus who was in the gall of bitterness and created a counterfeit religion?
Satan has always had counterfeits of the real thing. Have we truly paid attention to the real thing and properly discerned the counterfeit from the genuine?
In many cases, the difference might be subtle. It might just be the attitude.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
~ Jn 13:35