“My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

In the first two parts of our series on this passage, we focused on how being “quick to listen” and “slow to speak” affects our relationships—now and in the future.  The final point, “slow to become angry,” is equally as important and can greatly impact our relationships.

The American Psychological Association says, “Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion.  But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems—problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life.”

Slow to become angry?  It’s easy to think about when you’re not frustrated, aggravated, or in the midst of a heated discussion.  However, when you are in the middle of a conflict or faced with a major disappointment, being slow to become angry may be a much more difficult task.

Ephesians 4:26 says, “Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.”

The word letting indicates that we have a choice in allowing anger to take over our emotions, whether or not we allow ourselves to be controlled by it, and whether or not we sin.

I have found that being a person who is slow to anger can help you to become a person of reason, can keep you from saying or doing something regretful, and can make you a better friend, date or mate.

Become a Person of Reason

I travel via the airwaves about 100,000 miles a year.  I don’t recommend it for anyone who is short on patience or cannot be slow to become angry.  Whether it’s stripping down for the TSA screeners, squeezing into a middle seat on a long, sold-out flight, or lost luggage on a business trip, there are plenty of scenarios that can stretch you.

On one occasion when my luggage was “misplaced,” I stood in line behind a gentleman who was also in the same predicament.  I never heard such unfounded words and at such volume directed toward another who could possibly help him with his situation.  The traveler went away angry, frustrated, red-faced and mumbling to himself.  When it was my turn with the travel agent, I responded with a smile and a light comment about the previous traveler to which I received a smile in return.  My reaction resulted in the same consequence as the angry response yielded—a claim number and a phone number—but it didn’t leave a negative impression and heart palpitations for either of us.

A person of reason can deduce that the agent at the counter had nothing to do with the misplaced luggage and was actually there to help.  Allowing anger to take control does not usually produce better results; oftentimes it makes the situation worse.

"A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute" (Proverbs 15:18).

Personal pride can often play a role in decreasing the amount of time it takes to get angry.  The desire to be right or be acknowledged as right can cause a person to speak louder, with more emotion, and without reason. 

In Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ book, Love & Respect, he says, “You can be right but wrong at the top of your voice.”  I have found this to be true.  People don’t necessarily hear better at a higher volume, and in a relationship, the importance of maintaining self-control, being a person of reason, and speaking in the right tone is vital to the success of that relationship.

Refrain from Being Regretful

One of the first events chronicled in Moses’ adult life is in Exodus 2:11:  “He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.”