by Steven Chan
The emotion expressed by the first offspring of Adam & Eve when God rejected his offering was that of anger. So, God asked Cain: “why are you angry?” God then reasoned with Cain in Gen 4:7: “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.”
God asked Cain the reason for his anger: does he not realize that if he did well in making that offering to God, then God would have accepted it. But Cain did not make an acceptable offering and instead showed his anger at God’s rejection of his offering. Then God warned him that “sin lies at the door” and it desires to cause Cain to sin. Anger puts one in the position of being in danger of sinning. That’s why the Bible warned us about the danger of being angry:-
Eccl 7:8-9: “The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.”
Prov 14:16-17: “a fool rages and is self-confident. 17 A quick-tempered man acts foolishly.”
Prov 16:32: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
In Jonah 4:9 the Bible records another instance when God asked whether it was right for one to be angry: “Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” God then went on to explain to Jonah that his anger for the loss of the gourd plant was unjustified. We should be careful and not be like Jonah who felt that it was “right to be angry with the loss of the gourd plant which had given him shelter” even to the point of death!! Loss of personal comfort should not stir up such inordinate anger within us. God clearly implied that it was not right for Jonah to exhibit such great anger over the loss of the gourd plant – when Jonah should have stronger feelings of concern for the lost souls of Nineveh. Isn’t that the case with some of us – to feel very upset and angry over matters of little consequence or of personal discomfort or preference but not feeling anything at all or showing very little feeling for those who are missing out on God’s promise of eternal life?
Eph 4:26-27: “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.” The devil’s opportunity to cause us to sin is when we become angry. So we should not give the devil the opportunity.
James 1:19-20: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Indeed, the anger of man does not produce or further the cause of righteousness.
There’s a hymn that reminds us of the danger of speaking in anger:-
Angry words! O let them never,
From the tongue unbridled slip,
May the heart’s best impulse ever,
Check them ere they soil the lip.
Love one another thus saith the Savior,
Children obey the Father’s blest command,
Love each other, love each other,
‘Tis the Father’s blest command.
Love is much too pure and holy,
Friendship is too sacred far,
For a moment’s reckless folly,
Thus to desolate and mar.
Angry words are lightly spoken,
Bitterest thoughts are rashly stirred,
Brightest links of life are broken,
By a single angry word.
May we ever be mindful of the danger of being quickly angry. Do not be like Cain or Jonah in expressing our anger. Let’s heed the Lord’s command.