Anger Can't Create Righteousness in Us

James 1:20 contains one of the hardest truths in Scripture:

Anger can't create righteousness in us

Think about it.  How often do we ignore this truth?

Political Anger

As thrilling as it has been this week to see the Egyptian people rise up and march for the cause of justice, the anger of the crowd - chanting and stomping - can't create righteousness ... at least, not the righteousness that God desires.

The righteousness that God desires doesn't appear because of legal use of authority, application of power, passionate public debate, or even the will of the people. 

The righteousness of God appeared despite these things.

Parental Anger

Parental anger can provoke good behavior ... at least, for a time. But we don't stay on our good behavior forever, despite our parents' efforts.

When you think of your most recent sin, your thoughts probably don't turn to your childhood. "All have sinned" says Paul. And I would add that we all have sinned recently, even after our childhood. Neither parental anger nor dispassionate child-training can create righteousness.

This righteousness is more than good behavior.
It involves the source of our behavior.
And only God can impact the true source of our behavior.

And he did more than just get angry.

Personal Anger

When you sin, do you ever get angry?  Angry at yourself?  Angry at the devil?  Angry at the person or systems that tempted you?  Angry that Little Caesars' pizza is both delicious and cheap?

"Get angry and try harder" is the standard evangelical response to sin ... both in our lives and in the lives of other people in our community.  But this response leads to discouragement and false promises of success.

God's response to our sin wasn't to boom "Get angry and try harder" down at us from his throne in heaven.  He doesn't say "Get angry and be baptized for the remission of sins."  He doesn't even say "The anger of man can sometimes help bring about the righteousness I desire."

Anger can't create righteousness in us.

The Gospel: God through Christ creates righteousness

He does this despite the anger of the mass of humanity.
He does what parental anger never could.
He does what our anger has failed to do.

He does this through the incarnation...
Through the cross...
Through the grave...
Through the resurrection...
And ascension...
And the Spirit...
And the Church....
Through us.

No, our anger will collapse
One day
As our knees bow
And our tongues confess
And our hearts fill with joy.

If anger can't create righteousness in us, what's it good for?

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