Before I got married, someone described marriage to me like popping a pimple. “Listen, Caleb,” they told me. “When you start living in the same house, it’s gonna start pushing things inside of you to the surface, whether you like it or not. And sometimes, you’re gonna pop!”
If only I knew how right they were. I never considered myself an angry person – until I got married. I’ve only been married for a few months and already I’ve witnessed my anger come up in ways that I never imagined. Sometimes it’s the smallest inconvenience or annoyance that can set me off. Maybe it’s a sock left out on the floor, or a sink full of dirty dishes, or even a misunderstood word from my wife. But one moment I’m fine and the next, something boils up inside of me and – pop! I get angry at the woman I love.
Have you ever been there? Maybe not with a spouse, but with a sibling? A parent? A friend? A coworker? We get angry at people every single day! And many of those people we get angry with are fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Church, this is a problem!
Let’s examine a passage of Scripture to see what the Word of God has to say about anger between believers.
I John 3:11-15: "For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him."
In this passage of Scripture, John explains that first of all, we should love one another. That's a given. Christ Himself told the disciples that the world would know them by their love. It is to our shame as Christ's Church that we are often known for our judgmental, hypocritical attitude rather than for our love. How often are individual churches destroyed by the lack of love coming from within? This should break our hearts.
But furthermore, John compares those who fail to love their brothers and sisters in Christ to the murderer, Cain, and describes the person who does not love his brother or sister as a murderer too. He even says that no murderer has eternal life abiding in them.
So picture this scene, angry Christian. Cain and Abel, in the field, their offerings before God. Abel's, holy and accepted but Cain's, unholy and rejected. Abel is praised for his worthy offering, while Cain stands with his head down, dejected. His anger mounting, Cain notices a rock nearby. Something brews within him, then finally comes to a boil. He bends down and grasps the rock, weighing it in his hands. Anger spilling over, he raises the rock over his head and brings it down on his brother, slaying him. His brother falls to the ground, dead. Cain drops the rock, now stained with blood, to the ground with a thud of finality.
When we allow ourselves to become angry with a fellow brother or sister in Christ, we are reenacting this scene, effectively slaughtering them as Cain slaughtered Abel. You might find that over the top, but John makes no distinction between Cain and the person who is angry with their brother or sister.
So I leave you with this exhortation: the next time you find anger mounting up inside of you against a fellow brother or sister in Christ, put down the rock. Do not allow yourself to be given over to anger, fellow Christian. If you have been struggling with the sin of anger against a brother or sister in Christ, let it break your heart. Then repent and be made right with God. Be reconciled to that person if the situation requires it. Do not continue in this sin of murder.
And the next time you feel your anger mounting inside of you, picture the bloody scene of Cain and Abel and put down the rock. For your sake, for your brother's sake, and for the sake of God's glory.