Sermons

XV Pentecost

September 2, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. AMEN.

As I read the lessons each week, the first thing that I do is to see what catches my attention.  This week it was a phrase from the Letter of St. James:

“Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.”

This spoke to me.  It spoke to me, perhaps because during the course of this week, I have had little bursts of anger.  I think that I tend to be a person with a longer fuse, but the goings on in recent week (with the car accident and its aftermath) have made my fuse a bit shorter.  So this phrase spoke to me.  As I did some research in one of my older commentaries (yes, I used a book and not simply Google!)  it lead me to some other phrases from the Bible that speak of anger.

From the Book of Proverbs:

“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”  And “He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”

From St. Matthew’s Gospel, in these words of Jesus:

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire.”

But then I began thinking about Jesus and the money changers in the Temple.  We also read in St. Matthew’s Gospel account:

“And Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.  He said to them, ‘It is written, `My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you make it a den of robbers.’"  

We find this in all of the Gospels.  Does this mean that Jesus’ message about anger is inconsistent?  Does Jesus contradict himself?  Does He say one thing and do another?  No.

Jesus does not call us to simply smile and let the world do want it wants to do.  It has to do with righteousness and justice.

There is a difference between getting angry because the kitchen got the food we ordered wrong at a restaurant and being angry because people are starving because of tyrants and dictators.

There is a difference between being angry that we have to be on hold with our insurance company and people dying because they have no medical care.

Jesus did get angry.  But He did not get angry because of anything done or said to Him.  He got angry because for others. 

Sometimes we get it into our heads that being Christian is being nice.  Do not misunderstand me – There is nothing wrong with being nice and having manners.  But simply smiling and letting injustice go is not a Christian attitude.  Sometimes getting angry is a “godly anger” and not a human one.

Let’s look back at the phrase from St. James’ letter:

“Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.”

It’s this last part of the phrase that is important:

“…for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.”    But sometimes our anger can be a godly one.  One which works for the righteousness of God -- The Justice of God.

I seem to be in a pattern where I talk a bit about the lesson and then I give us some homework for the week.  I think that it is applicable this week.  Let’s look at what gets us angry.  Is it because of something selfish?  Or is it because of an injustice for others?

The real thing we need to think about this week is what we are going to do with our angry?  Will it lead to the righteousness of God?  Will it lead to Justice for others?  If so, perhaps our anger reflects Jesus’ love for the world.  AMEN.