Using Anger to Get What You Want

by John Piper

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” James 1: 19-21

1. What does „being quick to hear‟ allow for? What is the benefit of that? Is he just talking about the act of audibly listening?

2. Now, not only does James say to listen quickly, but at the same time he says to speak with slowness. What does the combination of these two lead to in our hearts. Look to Philippians 2: 3, 4 for clues.

3. What do we tend to do in the heat of the moment when a politician says something that is against our preferences, or someone pulls out in front of us, or a spouse or friend crosses our wills? What is our tendency?

4. In your own words, what is the righteousness that God requires? Have you ever been, or are you now, under the assumption that anger brings this about?

5. What are some ways that Christians invoke anger to bring about the righteousness of God? What are some ways you have seen this in your own life?

6. Notice that Peter charges „every person‟ to live life the way he puts forth. No one is exempt. Have you thought in the past, or in certain situations that you deserve a right to be angry because of the magnitude of the situation or the effect it is having on you or your family, regardless of these commands?

7. Describe a time when you put on mercy instead of anger, kindness instead of rage, forgiveness instead of revenge. What was that like and what effect did it have on the other party?

8. Why do you think that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God? What does produce the righteousness of God then?

9. How can you apply Matthew 7:1-5 as you seek to live out this passage?

10.So, since the anger of man doesn’t accomplish the righteousness of God, Peter instructs us to put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and instead receive the Word with meekness, which is able to save our souls. What does filthiness and rampant wickedness have to do with anger? Aren‟t they separate issues, unaffected by one another?

11.Why does it require meekness to receive the implanted Word?

12.Would you say the Word is implanted in you? What parable does this remind you of? If not implanted, what are the other three options?

13.What strikes you as interesting that Peter begins talking about anger, then finishes with talking about saving souls via the Word. How in the world does he get from something that is so commonplace as anger and then challenge the believers regarding their willingness to accept the Word of God?

14.It is common in many Christian homes to have what the world offers pumped into our living rooms via TV, internet, publications, movies, music, etc. How are you challenged with this, as Peter charges to put away „all filthiness and rampant wickedness‟? How might these very vehicles give weight to unrighteous anger in you?

Below is an excerpt from Jesus Freaks, by D.C. Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs. It displays the life and death of ones who could very easily have been given to anger, but chose the implanted Word instead.

Extreme Love
Jackie Hamill and Juliet
Philippines, 1992

The service was over. Jackie Hamill, a young Australian prison evangelist, was excited abut what God was doing. She had felt the love of Jesus reach out to these inmates. Jackie and fourteen members of her church had traveled to the Philippines to minister in a military prison there. They were concerned for the lost souls of the inmates, many of whom were communist guerrillas in prison for murder.

Suddenly, the quiet was broken by the sounds of fighting and gunshots. The inmates were rioting and had overpowered the guards, seizing their guns and ammunition to make an escape.

The evangelists were taken hostage and held for three days. During this time, Jackie and one other girl were raped repeatedly. But even in the moments when she suffered the greatest shame, Jackie prayed for her captors and spoke to them about God‟s love. Her face did not show panic, revulsion, or hatred, but glowed with the brightness of God‟s light.

During her imprisonment, she led the team in singing God‟s praises and presented the Gospel to her captors. One of the rioting inmates threw down his gun and received Jesus as his Savior.

On the third day, there was a shoot-out between the prisoners and soldiers who came to stop the riot. Jackie and Juliet, a 16-year-old, were shot. Even as Jackie lay dying she raised her hands to God, praying for the rioting inmates and for the soldiers. She died while singing to God.”

15.What must absolutely take place in your heart to be able to treat others the way these girls treated their abusers, even in the midst of persecution, disappointment, assault, etc.? Will you pray this day that God does a work in your heart so that you return good for evil, kindness for slander, love in the face of trial, and return Jesus to those who have served you wrongdoing?

16.Who do you need to go to that has been the bullseye for your anger? Is it God, a spouse, a child, a boss, co-worker, or all of the above? Last week, we studied humility. Will you let that lesson be a platform for you to deal rightly with those who need to see your repentance? Instead of continue to kill the relationship, will you seek to heal it?

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