Slow To Anger

“My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” — James 1:19

One of our Risers had an insightful point about this passage that I’d like to explore. She wondered something like, “it’s interesting that James is talking about being slow to anger like it’s something that you can actually control.” This insight wasn’t immediate to me when I read the text since, though I wage many other battles, I don’t struggle with anger or anger management. Thank Jesus. But our Riser was onto something.

We know what it is to be quick to listen — shut up. And slow to speak — keep shutting up. But slow to anger? What does that look like? Isn’t anger something that happens to us? We are used to thinking about our emotional state as something that we receive, not as something over which we can exercise control. We even have a word for (people who experience) powerful emotions: “passion(ate).” “Passion” and “passive” come from the same root: the Greek “πασχω” (pascho), meaning to suffer or be acted upon by something else. Our emotions are something we suffer; something we bear. Emotions aren’t something we do, they happen to us and we respond.

But God gives us a different picture.

God expects us not only to discipline our hands and feet and words, He expects us to discipline our minds. In Galatians 5:22-23, we get a description of the “fruit of the Spirit.” It (singular) is: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.” Control of self. And not merely control of what my mouth and fists do in response to emotions that fall upon me…Notice that the list is, arguably, all dispositions of the mind.

So, what do we do?

How do we start toward mental discipline? We start like we would any other discipline. If you want to get good at, say, throwing a baseball what do you do? Practice throwing a baseball. Like. A lot.

Scripture clues us in.

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.” — Phillippians 4:8

The way to discipline your mind is to, first of all, dwell on whatever is excellent and worthy of praise.

Practice putting your mind to whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, and lovely. Practice turning your mind from whatever is false, dishonorable, unjust, impure, and unlovely. With practice, we can learn to take the reigns of our minds and to bridle our emotions rather than allowing them to rule over us.


— Cameron Aanestad, Young Adults Pastor

Orchard Christian Fellowship proudly serves the communities of Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, and the rest of the Inland Empire. Orchard Christian Fellowship is an independent Bible-centered, Christ-following church, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.