FRIDAY 1.27.23 Genesis 4:1-10, Matthew 5:21-24, Ephesians 4:20-24, 26-27, 31-32
1 The man Adam knew his wife Eve intimately. She became pregnant and gave birth to Cain, and said, “I have given life to [Hebrews sounds like Cain] a man with the Lord’s help.” 2 She gave birth a second time to Cain’s brother Abel. Abel cared for the flocks, and Cain farmed the fertile land.
3 Some time later, Cain presented an offering to the Lord from the land’s crops 4 while Abel presented his flock’s oldest offspring with their fat. The Lord looked favorably on Abel and his sacrifice 5 but didn’t look favorably on Cain and his sacrifice. Cain became very angry and looked resentful. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why do you look so resentful? 7 If you do the right thing, won’t you be accepted? But if you don’t do the right thing, sin will be waiting at the door ready to strike! It will entice you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
9 The Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
Cain said, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s guardian?”
10 The Lord said, “What did you do? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.
21 “You have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago, Don’t commit murder [Exodus 20:13], and all who commit murder will be in danger of judgment. 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister will be in danger of judgment. If they say to their brother or sister, ‘You idiot,’ they will be in danger of being condemned by the governing council. And if they say, ‘You fool,’ they will be in danger of fiery hell. 23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift at the altar and go. First make things right with your brother or sister and then come back and offer your gift.
20 But you didn’t learn that sort of thing from Christ. 21 Since you really listened to him and you were taught how the truth is in Jesus, 22 change the former way of life that was part of the person you once were, corrupted by deceitful desires. 23 Instead, renew the thinking in your mind by the Spirit 24 and clothe yourself with the new person created according to God’s image in justice and true holiness.
26 Be angry without sinning [Psalm 4:4]. Don’t let the sun set on your anger. 27 Don’t provide an opportunity for the devil.
31 Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. 32 Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.
Genesis 4 was an archetypal tragedy. God warned Cain that his anger with his brother Abel and with God had lethal risks. Cain ignored God, acted out his anger against his brother, and killed him. God said, sadly, “Your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” Jesus said clearly that contempt, anger, even angry words that tear down and injure others are as morally vicious as the physical act of murder. Ephesians advised, “Don’t let the sun set on your anger”—i.e., deal with anger promptly.
- Scholar William Barclay said Jesus first reproved “the anger over which a person broods and… will not allow to die;” then the Aramaic raca [idiot], which “describes a tone… the whole accent of contempt;” and finally the Greek mōros [fool]: “To call a man mōros was… to cast aspersions on his moral character; to take his name and reputation.” * Would Jesus respond similarly to the angry words we see hurled on social media (and maybe join in) today?
- Does Cain’s “am I my brother’s guardian?” ever match the way you are inclined to deal with the results of your anger? Ephesians 4 knew that “anger is natural… because people hurt each other in various ways…. Paul wants them to deal with it right away so that no one sins against another by feeding on that anger and doing further damage.” ** Before hitting “send” on angry words, are you willing to ask, “Does this give grace? Does it build up? Can I picture Jesus saying this?”
Dear Jesus, when you lived here, evil made you angry—pious people who misrepresented God and hurt innocent people. Help me be angry about the things that make you angry. But help me, also, to live with your patience and mercy. Amen.
* William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Matthew—Volume 1, Chapters 1–10 (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, pp. 139-140.
** Timothy Gombis, study note on Ephesians 4:26 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 369 NT.
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Lauren Cook is the Entry Points Program Director at Resurrection, a self-proclaimed foodie, a bookworm, and is always planning her next trip. She has the sweetest (and sassiest) daughter, Carolina Rae, a rockstar husband, Austin, and a cutie pup named Thunder. She loves connecting with others so let her know the best place you've ever eaten, best book you've ever read, or best place you've ever been!