But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
The question comes to mind, “What does it mean to achieve the righteousness of God?” I’m not sure I comprehend this, but I think it has to do with the purifying of our walk. I know that the charge for our Christian walk is to pursue holiness. We are to seek out a closer relationship with God in the hope of becoming more like Christ. Our Christ-likeness will accomplish two things; we will bring glory to God and we will, in turn, lead others to a relationship with the Lord.
I understand the “quick to hear, slow to speak” part of this verse, but the idea of my anger keeping me from achieving the righteousness of God is a bit foreign. After all, anger is just another sin, right? Or maybe the root of my anger is the insistence that my way is the right way; an idea that would cripple my attempt at the type of religion James describes in the first chapter of his letter. James explains our religion as humility, service and self-denial, a stark contradiction to the Jewish religion in which righteousness was obtained by adherence to the law and sacrifice.
With this challenge, James leaves us with the undeniable truth that the pursuit of God and anger will take you in two different directions. If I choose to pursue righteousness, I must release my white-knuckled grip on “my way” and allow the Lord to freely work in my life, regardless of how it affects my plans or opinions. My anger is selfishness. Righteousness, as demonstrated by Christ, is selflessness.