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Anger: A Ruthless Killer

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord .
But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?
“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it (he) desires to have you, but you must master it (him).”
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Genesis 4:2-8 NIV

You can rip the life from someone and never be brought to court, never be found guilty, never have to answer for that death. It happens when love dies.

” Aren’t you getting just a bit over dramatic, Anabel?”

No, I don’t really think so. What do I mean? I mean that the results of physical death and emotional death are very much the same. You cease to be able to feel, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. You can’t function, you don’t have the ability to reason things out, there’s no motivation to go on living. You give up, you don’t try any longer. You exist. You separate yourself from living, from feeling, from the world. You look back and think, How did this happen? When did it start? It wasn’t a clean, quick cut; it was more like a beaver nibbling through a red oak. Who would have thought such little, insignificant things could fell a giant?

Once upon a time there were two brothers. I don’t know if their mom and dad ever talked to them about controlling their tempers, about how destructive patterns for anger or harsh words can build, or if they suggested constructive patterns of communication. Maybe it was Dad who said, “Oh, Honey, brothers have to argue and fight. That’s normal. They’re just getting socially acclimated. It’s their way of becoming their own person. They have to learn to stand on their own two feet in this world.” So they sat back and watched.

The boys grew up and lived in the same neighborhood, each in different lines of work, each successful in his own field. Then came the day when the younger of the two brothers received quite an honor; it caused resentment and hatred to blow all out of proportion, and the big brother killed his little brother.

That was in yesterday’s newspaper, wasn’t it? No. It’s the first recorded act of anger in the Bible, and the brothers were Cain and Abel. With just a few lines–giving us only the facts–we see the full fruit of uncontrolled anger ripen, and the first family grieves and remembers when “the boys were little.” Oh, how could this have happened? They used to play together for hours! Remember the time when we all went . . . an empty bed. An empty chair at the dinner table. Lonely walks.

I wonder how much time passed between verses seven and eight? How much time did Cain spend brooding over the honor that Abel was given? What thoughts did Cain practice over and over in his mind?

Hurt pride? “My offering was as good as his. I’d spent just as much time on mine.”

Self-pity? “I did the very best I could do. Why do things like this happen to me? Nothing seems to go right–no matter how hard I try.”

Failure? “Seems like my best is never quite good enough. I just don’t do things well–never have, never will.”

Jealousy? “If only I had thought of doing that. He was always the favorite.

Resentment? “Why should his offering be accepted and mine not be accepted? Any way you look at it, that’s not fair!”

Rejection? “How could God treat me this way? Why was my offering turned down? What’s wrong with me?”

Bitterness? “I don’t have to put up with stuff like this. And I don’t intend to put up with it! I’ll take care of this my way. I’m sick of Abel and everything about him! I’ll show him!”

The full fruit of anger, ripe. Cain probably felt and thought a lot of other things before he felt and chose revenge. One little thing plus another little thing plus other little things and suddenly you have a mountain of little things you can’t see around, a mountain that comes between you and that person and there’s death on that mountain.

Abel played out his part, too.

“What part? He was the innocent one, wasn’t he?”

Yes. But he must have known. He couldn’t be with Cain and not pick up on the tension, the moodiness. If Abel had been sensitive to Cain’s feelings, if he perceived that Cain was troubled about something, that there was a rift in their relationship, he could have gone to him: “Hey, Cain. What’s the problem? I can tell something’s bothering you. Look, I don’t want our relationship to be like this. I don’t want a barrier between us. Let’s try to talk this thing out.”

Maybe the story would have ended differently.

The Lord talked to Cain about what was going on inside of him: “Cain, why are you angry? So you didn’t do well this time. There’s always another time when you can try again. Every time you sulk like that you miss a chance to smile or laugh. Come on, Cain. Look, sin is right there at your door. You can send him on his way or you can invite him in. He wants to ruin you. Don’t let him do it. He’s not your master. Tell him to peddle that anger somewhere else. It’s your life, Cain, that will be ruined. Revenge is only sweet until you swallow it, and then its like a heartworm in a dog: It grows and eats the very life out of the body. Listen to Me, Cain. You can do it!”

But Cain had made up his mind. Getting the bitter revenge out of his system was more important to him than the results that might follow. You see, he thought about it, rehearsed it, went to sleep thinking about it and woke up thinking about it. I know I’m reading a lot into the story that isn’t written down. But its your story, too. What did happen? You were there. Death comes in a lot of different colors.

“Well, Anabel, I can see that you are not bothered with anger. If you were, you’d understand a little better just what goes on in a person who has a temperament like this.”

No. I’m sorry. You’re the one who doesn’t understand. When you were born again, that person who had that temperament died in Christ, and you are now a brand new person, with Christ as your very life. A power that cannot be conquered. A power that cannot be controlled. A power that overcomes!

Some day, when you’re bored and don’t have anything else to do, blow up a balloon. Big. Then, let it go. Watch it fly around the room! It hits everything in sight, and if it had any weight, it would be like a bull in a china closet. Now, blow it up again. Bigger. Give it to someone and ask him to hold it gently in his hands. Watch the “hot air” come out, watch the balloon shrink–harmless.

You see, we have something those boys didn’t have, something their mom and dad didn’t have: We have Christ living inside us. His hands are open. See them? Strong hands. Ugly scars right in the middle. Tender hands. Place that anger in those hands. Choose. See the anger spewing out of that balloon–slowly, harmless. It’s over. Now, your emotions won’t join your parade right away, but go ahead and march without them. They’ll catch up eventually. And your story will have a different ending. That’s a promise. You have His word on it.

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.