What are some personal character traits that are pleasing to God? The scriptures show us that we are to be people who are not easily angered, and we should be people who try to understand an issue before we react to it. We should also not be quick to respond when we are offended. Quick or immediate reactions to situations often come from the flesh; but as we take a pause, we allow ourselves time to yield to the Spirit, and our reactions will reflect God’s nature and character. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). These two scriptures tell us about dealing with anger, and they are keys to fruitful and godly interactions with other people. This lesson starts with dealing with how we analyze a situation.

Many arguments and debates are caused by misunderstandings about what is being communicated. And these misunderstandings often are the result of not fully listening to what is being said.  “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13). We should take time to carefully understand an issue before we respond to it. In order to truly understand what is being communicated, we may need to ask questions or rephrase what is being stated so that the speaker can clarify the message. Once we have proper understanding of an issue, we are then in a position to correctly respond to it.

Once we have correct understanding of an issue, we need to pause before we speak concerning that issue. We have to internally seek God’s wisdom in order to know how to address the issue, and it is possible that the Holy Spirit would not have us respond at all. Words spoken in haste are often spoken from the flesh, and fleshly responses not only cause problems, they are not pleasing to God. What we say may be vigorously rejected; however, we are not responsible for how people react to what we say. Our responsibility is to speak under the direction of God’s Spirit so that we do not fall into sin. There is a time to be angry, but our anger should be righteous anger originating from the spirit.

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:” (Ephesians 4:16). With anger, we have to be watchful of two things. First, our anger should be righteous anger which is anger that flows from our spirits. If the source of our anger is our flesh, it is sinful anger. Second, we must also not allow anger to linger. Righteous anger can be picked up by the flesh, and the flesh will hold on to this anger indefinitely. Righteous anger over a situation usually does not last too long. If we are angry over a situation for a long time, we need to turn our anger over to God. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).  Sinful anger is displeasing to the Lord, and it is harmful to our spiritual development. .

“For the [resentful, deep-seated] anger or man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us]” (James 1:20, AMP). The Amplified Version helps us to fully understand this verse. Christians should seek to become more and more like Christ. Fleshly anger causes us to act contrary to God’s nature; it is a hindrance to our Christian growth. This type of anger does not accomplish anything for God’s kingdom; it simply degrades those who cling to it. If we hold on to sinful anger, we are also giving Satan an opportunity to wreak havoc in our lives.

 God is very concerned with our interpersonal relationships, and he is also concerned with our spiritual development. We must obey God’s word and avoid habits and tendencies that are destructive to our walk with Christ. Christians should be people who listen to and understand issues before these issues are addressed; and we should strive to live a life that is free from thoughts of personal vengeance and sinful anger. We must listen carefully and understand an issue before we can wisely respond to it. If we live life in this way, we will continue to mature in our walk with Christ, and are interactions with other people will be spiritually fruitful.