Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Dangerous Feelings

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One of the first stories we find within the pages of scripture is a story about the dangers of anger. It is the story of Cain and Abel. This is the first of several stories within the book of Genesis about the conflict between brothers. Each of these stories highlights something different. The story of Cain and Abel is about several things, but most importantly it is about what can happen when anger and selfishness go unchecked.

There is a lot of speculation regarding the sacrifices in this story. God had regard for Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s. Why? The Bible never tells us and we should leave it at that. The emphasis is not on the offering. God does not even seem to be upset by Cain’s offering (Gen. 4:6-7). God simply blesses Abel, but does not bless Cain. This is the catalyst for Cain’s anger. He is jealous. He refuses to rejoice with his brother, but instead he chooses to sulk and feel sorry for himself.

While Cain is fuming over these events, God comes to him and asks him a series of questions.

The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)

God does not want Cain to be angry or upset. He wants Cain to pick himself up and try again. He wants Cain to succeed. This is what God wants from all of us. If Cain refuses to heed this advice, then he will be in danger. God warns him that sin will be lurking at the door. It will be lusting after him.

Sin is not to be messed with. Sin is dangerous. Sin is described here as a wild animal. It is waiting and watching, ready to pounce at any moment. It is like a hungry animal that is ready to eat. It will not allow anything to stand in its way.

Cain does not listen to God. He allows his anger to build and build until it comes pouring out. Cain kills his brother Abel.

Anger and selfishness is a deadly mix. When we act in anger we do stupid and sinful things. When we allow anger to take over, we are not thinking rationally. We do things that we normally would not do. The violent and heinous crime committed by Cain began with anger.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” (Matt. 5:21-22)

What can we do about anger? We must not allow it take charge of our life. When we feel anger coming on we must deal with those feelings before they get out of control. We must continually examine ourselves to make sure we are not harboring ill feelings toward anyone else. If there is conflict between ourselves and someone else, then we need to work to resolve our differences. Cain refused to address his feelings, even after he was warned by God, and because of this the situation quickly escalated. An angry feeling quickly turned into something more deadly.

Cain refused to follow the golden rule. He refused to treat others the way he wanted to be treated. He refused to love his neighbor as himself. We have a choice. We can follow in the footsteps of Jesus and choose to love others, or we can be like Cain who allowed anger and selfishness to be the driving forces behind his actions. The way of Jesus is not always easy. Sometimes we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Sometimes people rub us the wrong way. Sometimes we feel wronged and we want revenge. It is not easy always loving the other. It is a sacrifice. It means we recognize that the needs of others are more important than our own feelings. It is valuing community more than self. One way leads to life and the other leads to death. Which one will you choose?

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