So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
It was a small village. They felt more like family than like friends and neighbors. Each took his or her turn working in the community garden, and meal time was a group event. Their staple fruit came from a large tree in the center courtyard fed by an underground spring. The fruit always had been plump and ripe on time, but that changed one day. All of a sudden, the good fruit dried up before it could be picked, and the tree began to produce coals and stones. The villagers were at a loss for the reason behind this change. What they did not know was that a fault beneath the surface of the garden caused molten rock to bubble up through the Earth’s crust instead of into the sea, changing those tree roots from fertile wood to black rock.
Anger shows up and sits there just waiting to be born. We feel it come on in a moment or maybe longer, and we are given the choice of whether to allow it to produce fruit. These verses give us quite a compelling picture of what it is for us to let that process happen. When we allow that anger to bubble up below the surface, when we let it build until uncontrolled eruption, we are allowing wickedness to overflow from us when righteousness is what we should be producing. It is the classic case of taking an opportunity to produce good fruit and instead producing stones and coals. When we feel that fire building within us, we must be proactive and wise about how we turn down the heat. We can allow that pressure to relieve itself with destruction, or we can relieve it in a way that produces good fruit.
There is wickedness inside us as a consequence of the fall. Temptation which leads to sin begins because of our own evil desires. The wickedness is in there, but that does not mean that we should entertain it or build it and let it flow from us. Anger can be an arena of entitlement in this world, but we cannot afford to take that approach. We must recognize that the fruit of anger poisons not only the object of that anger but our very selves. The production of bad fruit does not come without effect. The fruit born of anger is darkness and death. Let us disarm anger when it starts and through wisdom produce light and life instead. Father, help us to walk in victory over the wickedness inside us that it would not overflow from us and produce bad fruit.