Remove Unnecessary Stress

Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.
–James 1:19

Would you like to remove some stress right now from your life? Let’s look at a few sources of unnecessary stress in our lives.

First of all, stress is caused by lack of purpose. We think it’s those goal-oriented, hard-driving individuals who are most stressed out. That’s really not true. The people who are most stressed out in life are those who don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing. Let me illustrate that for you. Have you ever been driving someplace, you know exactly where you want to go, yet you get lost? What happens? Don’t you immediately start feeling stressed out? You don’t know which way to go. That produces stress. It’s the same way in life. When you don’t have a clear purpose in life, it can produce stress.

Second, stress is caused by unrealistic goals. Much of the stress we have is when we instill unrealistic goals that have no basis in Scripture. We’re imposing unrealistic goals on ourselves. I remember many years ago when I got a contract for my first book, I was so excited. The publisher gave me six months to turn in the manuscript. But in a fit of insanity I decided to push myself and finish the book in three months. The only problem was Julia had just been born, so that caused a little difference in our household, and things were going on at the church. I ended up putting undue stress not only on myself and Amy and poor Julia, but on my church as well, all because of an unrealistic expectation. Much stress is caused by unrealistic goals.

Third, stress is caused by unresolved anger. Anger is a negative emotion we feel when our expectations are not met. Think about the last time you got angry. I bet you can trace that anger to some expectation you had that was not fulfilled by another person or circumstance. We get angry when the stoplight doesn’t turn green as quickly as we think it should. We get angry when our mate doesn’t pay us the attention we think he or she should. Much of our anger is caused by unmet expectations, and that’s why it’s important that we learn how to deal with stress caused by unresolved anger. The Word of God commands in James 1:19, “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” In the Greek language, there are two words for anger. One word for anger means a violent, explosive, volcanic outburst of anger. We’ve seen that, and we’ve done that before. But the word in James 1:19 refers to a smoldering, persistent anger. That’s the anger James wrote about in verse 20 when he said, “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” Is anger always wrong? Not necessarily. Anger sometimes is like a headache–it’s a symptom that something else is wrong that needs to be dealt with. That’s why Paul said in Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” When anger arises, deal with it. Deal with it before the sun sets; don’t allow it to smolder and destroy your life.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Relaxation over Stress” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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