“…watch out! Sin is crouching at the door…” (Genesis 4:7)
Cain was given a warning that he should have heeded. He was warned about the jealousy and anger that was welling up inside of him. “Watch out! Sin is crouching at your door!” God said. Watch out! It wants to control you. Watch out! You are out of control. Watch out! I know what you are thinking. Watch out! This is not going to end well! God could see it on his face. God could see it in his heart too.
Like most of us when we are warned of something, I am guessing that Cain just ignored the warning and thought he could handle it. His story, though, ended in a death. For the first time, humanity experienced the curse of death. For the first time, the blood that was spilled was human blood. For the first time, anger and jealousy killed someone.
I think God is standing next to people every day with the same warning. “Watch out for your anger and jealousy!” While we may not physically kill someone, we will kill them with our words and our attitudes. Sometimes those words and attitudes are worse than a death. So how should we respond to anger?
We have to look at the source of the problem.
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. (James 4:1-2a)
James, Jesus’ brother, makes a good point here. There is a war within all of us. It is a jealousy war. We like to be first. We like to be noticed. We want it our way. When it doesn’t happen, there are forces within us that begin to wage war. Our jealousy turns to anger and we lose control. We must heed the warning in the Scriptures, or our anger and jealousy will kill.
Anger is an interesting emotion. It is the one emotion that makes us feel like we are in control. All the while, everyone around us can see that we are out of control. Physiologically, when we are angry we are fueled by a chemical called adrenaline. Our body can end up with super human strength, while our tongue can end up with super toxic words. The scary thing is that, before we even realize it, we can hurt someone. Because it is not in our human nature to admit that we have a problem or that we made a mistake, we say “You made me angry. It’s your fault.” In reality, anger is the one curse we still have from the fall of man. It is the war within all of us. So what can we do?
Many people take anger management classes. They do help. We can learn to control our emotions. But, the best solution is to allow God to change our emotions. Jesus’ brother gives us the solution in that same chapter of James.
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. (James 4:6b-8)
The answer begins on our knees as we make our move to God with our confession. We have to agree with God about our sins. We need to let go of our control and let Him forgive. We wash our hands of the anger.
The deeper answer we seek is found in our hearts. It is our pride that causes out-of-control anger. We purify our hearts by laying our will down. We choose to follow Christ. This is when we become real Christ-followers.
Cain’s real problem was his pride. He was unwilling to provide an acceptable sacrifice for his sin. He was unwilling to let his brother win. He lost the war within and killed his brother. We must not lose the war within.
I think God is standing next to people every day with the same warning. “Watch out for your anger and jealousy!” While we may not physically kill someone, we will kill them with our words and our attitudes. Can you relate to that statement? How do you express your anger and jealousy?
Are you a good listener? If not, who do you know that is? Do you tend to lead with your ears, or your tongue?
God kept warning Cain, giving him the chance to not make the horrible choice he was about to make. Can you think of a time when your mom or dad warned you to stop during an argument with your sibling(s) and you didn’t? Did the argument get worse?
Our devotion series this week is adapted from the new book ‘Tale of Two Brothers’ by Dan & Ron Kellogg. Find out more and purchase the book here! You can get the book FREE on Monday, 09/26 and every Sunday from 09/25-10/16 on Amazon Kindle. Don’t miss out on this free download!