Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lessons in Anger - Part One

Many of you who know me may not realize this, but I struggle a lot with anger, especially in the private arena. It's definitely something I'm not proud of, but something I'm learning to control. I have a tendency to want things to go a certain way, & when those expectations aren't met, sometimes I let anger get the best of me. I decided to do a word study to learn how to better control my anger. Basically I've just gone through scripture references about anger in order and written down a few insights. Currently I'm just studying human examples of anger. There are plenty of references to God's anger, but I thought I'd save that for a separate study. Many of the scriptures are entire chapters, so I'm only including the references here.

Genesis 4: Cain was angry because God did not find his sacrifice acceptable. Cain wanted to serve God on his own terms. He wanted to serve God in way that was easy and convenient instead of the way of sacrifice that God required of him. Cain sinned in his anger and was unrepentant for his attitude and for his sin. His anger was from a place of self-centeredness rather than faith. Rather than repenting, he turned his anger onto Abel, murdering him, and consequentially was separated from his parents' family. He also left a legacy of sin for his offspring rather than righteousness. As a result his children and the generations that followed continued in selfish and evil behavior.

Genesis 27: Esau lost his blessing in large part because he was more concerned about the moment than his future. Part of his anger toward his brother Jacob was justified because of Jacob's deceitfulness, but most likely he was more angry at himself for his short-sighted foolishness. He displaced this anger toward himself onto his brother. Jacob fled for his life. Because of Esau's inappropriate anger he not only lost his father's blessing, but he also lost his relationship with his brother for a time.

Genesis 31:36-43: Jacob had legitimate reasons to be angry with his father-in-law, Laban. However he handled his anger poorly. Jacob was passive-aggressive and manipulative. Laban had been unjust with Jacob on several occassions and Jacob kept his anger pent-up until he "exploded" onto Laban and overreacted in this situation. Laban's reaction was to refuse to accept responsibility for his actions and instead tried to make himself look like the victim. Anger must be dealt with quickly and head-on so it will not interfere in our relationships with God and people. Also, the longer we allow anger to fester, the more likely we are to sin in our anger.

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