Jesus equated anger in the heart to murder (Matthew 5:21-22). Photo by ahmad gunnaivi on Unsplash.
Anger caused Cain to kill his brother Abel.
After Cain’s sacrifice was rejected, God actually gave him a chance to repent. In fact, God even encouraged him to redress his wrong and try again.
“So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’” (Genesis 4:6- 7)
Out of anger comes hatred, then violence, then murder.
Cain knew that sin was lurking at the door of his heart. He had a choice to do something about it so that jealous anger would not obtain a foothold in his bosom.
Jesus equated anger in the heart to murder (Matthew 5:21-22). This is because out of the strong feeling of anger comes hatred; after hatred comes violence; once violence erupts, the final fruit of anger is murder!
If we are serious about dealing with the issues of anger, we must not let the enemy slip into our hearts to establish a foothold.
How do we close this “door to anger”?
Evangelist DL Moody, the “Billy Graham” of the 19th century, had a sharp temper which he learned to control – usually.
One evening Moody was conducting two evangelistic services back-to-back. After the first one, as Mr Moody was standing near the door, welcoming the new crowd, a man approached him and delivered a highly offensive insult of some sort.
Moody never repeated it, but it must have been contemptible, for in a sudden fit of anger, Moody shoved the man and sent him tumbling down a short flight of steps.
“I want to confess that I yielded just now to my temper, out in the hall, and have done wrong.”
The man was not badly harmed, but Moody’s friends wondered how he could now possibly preach the second service. “When I saw Mr. Moody give way to his temper,” said an observer, “I said to myself, ‘The meeting is killed.’ The large number who have seen the whole thing will hardly be in a condition to be influenced by anything more than Moody can say tonight.”
But Moody called the meeting to order, stood and with a trembling voice spoke these words: “Friends, before beginning tonight I want to confess that I yielded just now to my temper, out in the hall, and have done wrong. Just as I came in here tonight, I lost my temper with a man, and I want to confess my wrong before you all, and if that man is present here whom I thrust away from me in anger, I want to ask his forgiveness and God’s. Let us pray.”
Instead of a lost cause, the meeting seemed unusually touched that night, with many people deeply and eternally impressed with the Gospel.
Why do we become angry? Perhaps we feel that our rights have been challenged, or the other party has treated us unfairly, or we have been victimised, and they owe us an apology.
The ultimate restoration and deliverance from this bondage is the act of releasing forgiveness on our part towards the person who has knowingly or unknowingly offended or hurt us. This is the first step to spiritual recovery, which will liberate us from other spiritual bondages caused by anger in the heart.
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22)
As a disciple of Christ, Simon Peter understood his responsibility to forgive. Did you know that in the Old Testament, the Jewish rabbis at that time taught that forgiving someone more than three times was necessary?
“Lord, forgive me, I cannot forgive.”
Therefore, Peter was especially generous when he asked Jesus if seven times (the “perfect” number) was enough to forgive someone.
But Jesus had an even higher standard. The way of forgiveness in the Kingdom of God is seventy times seven times!
Writing in Christianity Today, Professor Lewis B Smedes relates a story about Corrie Ten Boom to illustrate the power of forgiveness:
“She was stuck for the war years in a concentration camp, humiliated and degraded, especially in the delousing shower where the women were ogled by the leering guards. But she made it through that hell. And eventually she felt she had, by grace, forgiven even those friends who guarded the shower stalls.
“So she preached forgiveness, for individuals, for all of Europe … One Sunday, in Munich, after the sermon, greeting people, she saw a man come forward toward her, hand outstretched: “Ja, Fraulein, it is wonderful that Jesus forgives us all our sins, just as you say.” She remembered his face; it was the leering, lecherous, mocking face of an SS guard of the shower stall.
“Her hand froze by her side. She could not forgive. She thought she had forgiven all. But she could not forgive when she met a guard, standing in the solid flesh in front of her. Ashamed, horrified at herself, she prayed, ‘Lord, forgive me, I cannot forgive.’ And as she prayed she felt forgiven, accepted, in spite of her shabby performance as a famous forgiver.
“Her hand was suddenly unfrozen. The ice of hate melted. Her hand went out. She forgave as she was forgiven.”