Christian Devotionals

"Conquering Rage"

Are you one of those people who can’t admit when you’re wrong? Does your anger get the best of you where you seek revenge against others? How prideful and stubborn we can be even in the most trivial matters. If left unchecked, this behavior pattern will negatively impact your friendships, business relationships and most definitely your walk with God.

I’m starting to read the Bible over again, cover to cover. This time I’m reading “The Life Application” translation. When I got to Genesis chapter 4, I couldn’t help but think how much we can be like Cain at times. Specifically when we allow anger, jealousy and rage to rule out over common sense. This was after God accepted Abel’s superior sacrifice and rejected the offering of his brother Cain. We don’t know the specific details of why one sacrifice was accepted over the other, but it was most likely due to Cain’s poor attitude towards giving or his unwillingness to follow God’s specific instructions. Regardless, Cain’s anger and jealousy got the best of him. As he plotted to kill his brother – the very first murder on earth – the LORD confronted him and gave him this warning and second chance:

“Why are you angry?” the Lord asked him. “Why is your face so dark with rage? It can be bright with joy if you will do what you should! But if you refuse to obey, watch out. Sin is waiting to attack you, longing to destroy you. But you can conquer it!

Here we have our loving Father nearly pleading with Cain to let this go before it destroys him … “You can beat this!” Well, we all know what happens next. Cain chooses to ignore God’s warning (free will and all) and murders Abel.

Stubborn pride led to Cain’s refusal to admit he was wrong and take God up on His offer to “do the right thing” and try again. We serve a God who wants us to succeed and live a life free of sin. Cain would have none of that, he wanted revenge and that is what he got. The Bible tells us that from this point on, two groups emerged on the new earth: the people showing indifference to sin (people like Cain) and those who called themselves “The LORD’s people” (descendants of Adam and Eve’s son Seth).

Take some time right now and ask God to reveal any bitterness or anger that you may have towards a person  whom you believe has “wronged” you. Allow God to examine your heart and your attitude about this troubling situation and ask Him what it is that you should do. Be obedient to the still small voice within that directs you to “do the right thing.” You have a choice here, don’t let sin get the best of you. Now ask the Prince of Peace – Jesus - to help you rid yourself of these feelings of rage and replace them with the joy that only He can bring (“It can be bright with joy”). This is how we conquer sin and live like the group known as “The LORD’s people.

Now lets jump ahead several thousand years to David in 1 Samuel chapter 25. During a period when David was on the run from King Saul, we find David and his troops bivouacked in the Judean wilderness near the household of Nabal (whose very name means “fool”).  Although David’s forces refrained from pillaging and even went as far as protecting his flocks from bandits and raiders, this stubborn and foolish man refuses to grant David’s polite request for provisions. Nabal even goes so far as insulting the mighty David in front of his fiercely loyal troops. Upon hearing about this major snub and insult, David is fit to be tied. His anger gets the best of him and he vows to kill Nabal and every last male in his household. To put things into perspective, Nabal’s insult was real, but David’s response was overkill. Yet here we have an enraged David en route to pay ole Nabal a little visit with four hundred angry warriors. “I’ll show him what it means to mock me and refuse my polite request for food.” Fortunately for David and all the males of Nabal’s household, God sent Abigail, Nabal’s intelligent and godly wife, to intervene on Nabal’s behalf. She provided David and his men with a large supply of food and pleaded for forgiveness for her husband’s actions. Most importantly, Abigail prophesied that the LORD had great plans for David, including becoming King of Israel. “Don’t blow it by seeking revenge and spilling innocent blood.”

What was David’s response to this brave woman who was like a cool hand on a hot head?

“Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.”
(1 Samuel 25:32-33)

Unlike Cain, David took advantage of this warning from God to put aside his rage and do the right thing. As author Gary Inrig writes in his book Forgiveness, “Revenge is a seductive short-term solution that leaves ugly long-term consequences.” Cain sought revenge and suffered the following consequences: he  was banished from his homeland with the curse of never being able to successfully farm again. Furthermore, he no longer enjoyed fellowship with God. David on the other hand obeyed God’s warning and refrained from revenge.  As a result, the LORD not only punished Nabal, but He later made David king of Israel.

Inrig goes on to write, “ David did not deny that he was being severely wronged. But three things kept him from revenge: the conviction that God was sovereign; the certainty that God was wise; and the confidence that God is just … He can be trusted to do what is right both for the wrongdoer and for us.”

Let David’s godly response be the motivation for us to “do the right thing” when we have been wronged. The same God can and will do the right thing for each one of us as He did for His servant David.

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