After a month’s break, I think I should get back at the business of writing devotionals about Pope Gregory the Great’s list of the seven deadly sins. I am not sure that Pope Gregory listed them in order to their deadlines but number 3 on his list is - anger. When visiting with the people these days I seem to hear a lot about that topic. Many people sense that there seems to be a lack of civility in the dispositions of too many of us in the opinions express and the conversations in which we engage. That seems to grow more apparent in the political year and show up in the newspapers and TV dialogues and - I have read in the news that it is getting harder and harder at family gatherings for everyone to go home with everyone being happy! Some say it’s getting worse and worse.
But the emotion of anger appears early in the Bible we are encouraged to read in our daily devotion. Have you noticed that the word angry appears very early in the first book of that Bible? Cain and Abel were the first children of the first family on earth. It seems that Cain got the idea that the Lord’s regard and appreciation of Abel’s offerings of the roast mutton was pretty cool but didn’t care much for the green beans out of Cains’s garden.We might wonder why this became such a big deal but according to Genesis 4:5 “Cain was very angry and his countenance fell.” I think the Bible tells us early on that we are very susceptible to being infected by a fallen countenance! And the consequences can be dangerous. Cain wound up killing Abel. It is not that anger in itself is sinful.There is such a thing as righteous anger. But angry people are not those who are easy to live with. Another part of the of the bible reminds us of that. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians tells us: “If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day. Don’t give the Devil a chance” The Old King James Version of the Bible says it this way. “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Ephesians 4:26. I have my own way of trying to remember to deal with anger before it gets you into trouble. Somebody once told me that the ruffled rooster was the easiest to pluck!
If we do not learn to deal with anger, we can easily be overcome by ‘fallen countenance”. Which can lead to hurting someone or we can become like a ruffled rooster and embarrass ourselves. Jesus asks us to forgive our neighbor - and ourselves.