Do you ever yell at your kids, then regret it later? Is there a person in your life who just bugs you to no end? When things don’t go your way, do you get irritated? Do you live in resentment in any of your relationships? Have you ever experienced road rage? Or road annoyance? My guess is that if you’re still alive and kicking, you’ve experienced some of these things.
I used to live in annoyance. I was that person who would get easily annoyed with everyone. People didn’t necessarily know that because I wasn’t always vocal in my annoyance (at least not all the time!) but it was there nonetheless.
Here’s the thing though. So often we go through life without changing. I went 20 years being a person who was easily annoyed. This wasn’t a topic that came up frequently in Bible studies or church, so I didn’t really know how to get over it. I felt bad about it, but couldn’t make myself change.
That all changed when I started renewing my mind consistently. God showed me the lies I was believing that made me annoyed, and the truths that would change my attitude. Lies like, “I’m the good guy and he’s the bad guy,” or “If only he would change, I could be happy,” or “I can’t believe he would do such a thing!” (when I would do just as bad of things but in a different way).
The Bible is meant to change the way we live. It’s not just a book to be studied and read and analyzed. It’s a book that God gave us to actually change the way we live. To help us get rid of all those bad habits. Let go of those negative emotions. Develop new life-giving habits. Learn how to keep God first in our lives. Love others with a sacrificial love. And experience the abundant life of living in the fruit of the Spirit.
James: A Bible Study That Will Help You Change
Today is the official release date of my new Bible study, James. Years ago, I went to a class on how to write Bible studies at a Christian Writer’s Conference. We were taught to make 10% of the questions in our Bible studies be life application questions. I would say my new James Bible study is more like 70-80% application questions. That’s because I think the Bible should change our lives. And the way to make that happen is to apply it to our lives.
Last week I shared Lesson 3 in the James Bible study: Overcoming Temptation. Here are a few other lesson topics in James:
- Letting Go of Comparison
- Keeping God First
- How to Stop Saying Things You Shouldn’t Say
- Developing a prayer habit
- Overcoming Envy and Lust
- How to Stop Being Judgy
- When You’re Under Spiritual Attack
- Taking Risks for God
- Playing Favorites
There are 20 lessons in all, and each lesson is a different topic, so it’s helpful for group discussions but also for personal growth as the study works well for individuals, one-on-ones, and small groups. Each lesson has 12-15 questions with very little commentary from me.
The questions will engage your mind and help you apply that day’s Bible passage to something that’s currently going on in your life: a relationship, a temptation, an ongoing trial, or something that happened yesterday.
It would be a helpful study for youth groups, college Bible studies, or older groups. My husband and I did it with our small group, and our son Michael and his wife Hannah did it with their small group of young married couples. So it’s not age-dependent. It would also be useful for adults and teenagers to use in their quiet times.
If you’d like to read or download the lesson on overcoming temptation, click here: Lesson 3 – Overcoming Temptation. Keep reading for the lesson on letting go of anger, resentment, annoyance, and irritation.
Lesson 4 from James: Slow to Anger
19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, put- ting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. James 1:19-21
1. Summarize or diagram this passage.
2. According to this passage, what does anger not do? What does the Word do?
3. Verse 19 talks about being quick to hear and slow to speak. List the people in your life who would benefit if you were to follow this advice.
4. What kinds of things do you say in those relationships that you probably shouldn’t say?
5. James 1:20 says that anger doesn’t produce the righteousness of God. Let’s see if this holds true in our own lives. How do people respond when you’re angry with them (or when you say the things you mentioned in the previous question)? Does it cause them to recognize their own sin, repent, grow closer to God, and be more like Him? If not, how do they usually respond?
6. What might change about those relationships if you were quick to hear and slow to speak?
7. Our anger doesn’t produce righteousness in the lives of others, but it also doesn’t produce righteousness in our own lives. Think of the days you feel irritated or annoyed. How does it affect your attitude and actions? What would happen if you were to let go of your anger and forgive the person you’re angry with? How might you be different?
8. Often we don’t want to let go of anger and forgive people because we think they’ll get away with their bad behavior if we do that. We also think that if we let it go, they’ll never change. Review your answers to question 5. Have you been good at getting people to change by hanging on to your irritation, anger, or annoyance (or by saying the things you say in question 4)? Explain.
9. Romans 2:4 tells us that the kindness of God leads us to repentance. What would happen if you followed the practice of Romans 2:4 in the relationships you mentioned in question 3, rather than the things you currently say? Invite God to show you what fruit your kindness might bear.
10. Think about the relationships you mentioned in question 3. What would you like to change about the way you respond and relate to those people? (For example, would you like to give more grace, focus on their good traits, wait five seconds before you respond when you’re annoyed, etc.?) Explain.
11. In verse 21, James tells us to put away all filth and rampant wickedness. It’s unclear whether he’s switching to a new topic or describing anger as filth and rampant wickedness, but it is clear what the solution is: In humility, receive the word implanted which is able to save your souls. Think of the relationships you’ve been working through in this lesson. In what ways do you need to practice humility in those relationships? Offer specific examples of how you can practice humility in each one.
12. Keeping in mind the people who annoy you, read through today’s Bible passage again. Visit with God about what you learned in today’s lesson and anything you’d like to change about the way you handle the relationships you mentioned in today’s lesson.
13. What is your biggest takeaway from today’s lesson?
14. List any action steps you’d like to take based on your takeaway and prayer time with God.