Summary: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
I love baseball. But let me tell you about one particular game of baseball that I’m glad I wasn’t part of; in the spring 1894, when the Baltimore Orioles came to Boston to play a routine baseball game. But what happened that day was anything but routine. The Orioles’ John McGraw lost his temper, got angry, got into a fight with the Boston 3rd baseman and before you knew it – the anger spread. Within minutes: all the players from both teams had joined in the brawl: letting off steam. The warfare spread to the grandstands, as the anger spread like fire – literally in fact: because someone set fire to the stands and the entire ballpark burned to the ground. Not only that, the fire spread to 107 other Boston buildings as well. Because of one man’s anger half a town was destroyed! And to think that it all started with a little altercation at third base. John McGraw couldn’t even remember later just why he got so angry yet the damage from his anger spread and just about destroyed a whole city.
Proverbs 29:8 tells us that mockers stir up a city, but wise men turn away anger. Anger sure stirred up the city of Boston 100 years ago. But God’s word knew all about it thousands of years ago. God knows the destructive power of our anger and His Word warns us to control it. If only John McGraw had kept himself under control the destruction of Boston would’ve been prevented. And if only you didn’t unleash your anger on your friends, or people you live with, or people you work with, or… if only we could control our anger. If only we’d treat seriously the commands of God’s Word (James 1:19-20):
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
Our ways are not God’s ways and we need to change from being slaves to sin to being servants of God, we need to die to anger and rise to patience. How can we die to anger? Count to 10? Hold our breath? Bite our tongue? No, we’ve got to go deeper than that. We need to let God’s Word do radical surgery in our lives, as we seek to live new lives with Jesus as our boss.
I. The Problem
• Where does our anger come from?
o We see the birth of anger in Genesis 4.
o Anger hits the landscape of this fallen world very early.
o Sin is born in Genesis 3 where Adam and Eve decided to reject God, instead of having God at the center of their world, they decided to grasp for God’s crown and become their own boss.
o God’s good creation was intact for just two chapters.
o Now we see anger being born in Genesis 4.
• If pride comes before a fall, it’s anger that follows hot on its heels.
o And, as surely as Eve now gives birth to Cain, pride gives birth to anger.
o In some ways this is a surprise isn’t it?
o Genesis 3 ended with a promise of a good birth.
o With the birth of sin, a hideous and terrible birth, came the promise of a great birth a wonderful birth (Gen 3:15), the birth of one who will crush the serpent.
o Her offspring will defeat Satan and will put right all that’s gone wrong with God’s perfect world.
• If you were reading Genesis for the first time, what are you thinking as you turn to Genesis 4 verse 1?
o Eve has a son you see, could this be the one?
o But if our hopes rise with the birth of Cain, they are soon dashed because he is definitely not the one to reverse sin.
o Instead of Cain crushing the serpent he’s taken captive himself.
o Cain’s life is far from a reversal of sin.
o In fact, we see sin spreading like a epidemic, it’s out of control.
o Sin grows like a hideous monster bringing destruction and death wherever it goes.
• A few contrasts between chapter 3 and chapter 4 show us just how destructive the spread of sin is.
o Eve had to be talked into taking the fruit (Gen 3) whereas Cain needs no persuasion (Gen 4).
o He thinks up his anger at his brother Abel all by himself because it’s in his nature.
o He needs no temptation to play God because he’s already ascended to the throne.
o Cain’s anger at his brother comes from his rejection of God.
• God has favored Abel’s offering over Cain’s.
o We don’t know why – but that’s the point – we don’t need to know why, and neither should Cain because we’re not God – and Cain’s not God and he should accept that God is God, that God’s at the center.