Webster states that anger is, “the general term for an emotional reaction of displeasure in any degree of intensity that may or may not be shown.” Synonyms of anger would be rage, wrath, and fury. Anger not controlled can become very costly. In fact, our text relates that Cain’s anger led to Abel’s murder. God told Cain the consequences of his anger would be: thou art cursed from the earth; that he would till the earth, but it would yield very little; that he would be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth, driven from the face of other men and from God. Verse 16 states, “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD.” There is no greater earthly punishment of man than to be denied God’s Presence, God’s Fellowship, and God’s Blessings. Cain said, “My punishment is greater than I can bear” (verse 13).
You may be at this very hour suffering greatly from your uncontrollable anger. You can’t change the consequences of your past actions arising from anger uncontrolled. However, you can identify the problem and change the future by God’s help.
Many that have read the story of Cain and Abel will say that Cain murdered Abel because of his jealousy of his brother Abel. But in reality, Cain murdered Abel from a spiritual problem. Both of these men came to worship God. However, God accepted Abel’s blood offering and God rejected Cain’s offering of fruit of the ground. It was not that God loved Abel more than He did Cain; for Cain was the first born (see verse 7) which made him first in rank of priority. Had Cain not had sin at his door, he would have ruled over Abel.
Cain’s problem was not jealousy, but rebellion to God’s revealed way of approach to worship Him. Abel was not Cain’s problem at all; his problem was not submitting to God’s way of worship. Cain got wroth at God, not at Abel, for God rejecting his offering and then revealing Cain’s sin to him. Cain realized his sin had been revealed by God. He had been uncovered; his pride had been manifested. This is why he got wroth (angry). 1 John 3:12d says, “Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” So, once caught, he lashed out at God by killing his brother; because his brother’s righteousness is what showed him up. Really, he did not hate Abel, but he hated God. So, he got rid of the one who represented God and His Righteousness.
Maybe you have not murdered anyone. But, you hate them because they represent the Light, even Jesus Christ and His Righteousness. 1 John 3:15 says, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.” Therefore, if your anger has brought you to hate those around you, you are no different than Cain.
Maybe you are seeking help with your anger. You have tried various and sundry anger management courses and yet you are still being controlled by your inability to control your anger. I point you not to worldly remedies which lead you to reform only. But I point you to the root of your problem; it is rebellion to God. It is your unwillingness to submit your will to God and follow His instructions. The problem is a love problem, not an anger problem.
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (38) This is the first and great commandment. (39) And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (40) On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
When you are in love with God, then you want to please Him in all your actions toward Him and toward you neighbor. Please read 1 John 3:1-24; 4:7-21. In these verses, you will find the answer to your anger problems. The answer is God’s Love being preeminent in your heart and His Love practiced in your daily actions toward those around you. Sometimes you have to turn the other cheek; you can’t have it your way; it must be God’s way.
Remember that uncontrolled anger has a cost more than you want to pay; sometimes the cost is more than you can pay. For the cost may be the loss of your freedom for the rest for your life. How can I change this terrible cycle of anger, of loss, of hurt, of misery, etc?
Anger originates in the heart. Uncontrolled anger is an emotion that can only be controlled by the Power of the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore, look to God for your help; call out to Him. Confess your sin; ask for mercy, and God will not turn you away.
(Luke 18:13-14; Philippians 4:13, 19; Psalms 50:15; Psalms 86:7; Romans 10:13)
(This devotional was first posted on September 18, 2010.)