Tim’s Daily Bread Devotional 4.16.22

By April 16, 2022Daily Bread

Good morning!

I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.

Today’s Scripture: Genesis 4:1-12

Cain Murders Abel

Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced[a] a man with the help of the Lord.” Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.”[b] And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”

 

Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today

The New Testament letter to the Ephesians says: “Be angry without sinning; do not let the sun go down on your anger. Do not provide an opportunity for the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27) In some translations it says, “don’t give the devil a foothold.”

When I read this, I think about the image of a climbing wall. To get to the top you have to have a foothold and a handhold. You have to have something to cling to, and the writer of Ephesians is saying in this passage, “don’t give seething anger, evil, a foothold in your life because it can take over.”

You give that little toehold for seething anger, it becomes resentment, then a grudge, and then it can grow from there until it begins to take over your life and becomes destructive. That’s why there is sage advice here: “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”

This means we should not carry anger from day to day, from week to week, from month to month, from year to year, because the seeds of anger can grow into that which robs people of life — the abundant life Jesus came to offer us. It can lead to words and actions that may not physically kill, but that can wound and even kill the spirit of the one holding the anger or the one who is the recipient of that anger.

The story of Cain and Abel teaches about that toehold of anger. You remember the story – Cain and Abel brought offerings to the Lord, and Abel’s offering was acceptable; Cain’s was not.

Cain was angry. In fact, he was furious.

The Lord came to Cain and said, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Do you remember what happens? Cain doesn’t seek to master it.  He lets it not only get a toehold but it takes over his life and he invites his brother out into the field where he kills him. (Genesis 4:3-8) God then went to Cain out of love to help him deal with his anger in a way that is constructive and ultimately could be life giving.

In his book, Wishful Thinking, Frederick Buechner says, “Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back. In some ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”

There are several words in Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament, that can be translated as anger. The word used in Ephesians isn’t the anger of God in the face of injustice.  It’s not the righteous anger of Jesus cleansing the temple. It’s not the righteous anger of the prophets that leads to good and to reform.

No, this is the kind of anger that leads to destruction. It’s the kind of anger that can become a grudge. It’s the people-dishonoring and God-dishonoring and hate-producing anger. The kind of anger that can be deadly.

God calls us to be aware of that kind of anger in our lives and to not let it have a toehold with us. The words God speaks to Cain are good words for us to take to heart: “Sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Don’t let your destructive anger have a toehold.

 

Hymn:  “Help Us Accept Each Other”

Fred Kaan (1975)

Help us accept each other
as Christ accepted us;
teach us as sister, brother,
each person to embrace.
Be present, Lord, among us
and bring us to believe
we are ourselves accepted,
and meant to love and live.

Teach us, O Lord, your lessons,
as in our daily life
we struggle to be human
and search for hope and faith.
Teach us to care for people,
for all, not just for some,
to love them as we find them,
or as they may become.

Let your acceptance change us,
so that we may be moved
in living situations
to do the truth in love,
to practice your acceptance
until we know by heart
the table of forgiveness,
and laughter’s healing art.

Lord, for today’s encounters
with all who are in need,
who hunger for acceptance,
for righteousness and bread,
we need new eyes for seeing,
new hands for holding on;
renew us with your Spirit,
Lord, free us, make us one!

Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me, with God, and with these reflections on a portion of scripture.  I hope you will carry these with you throughout your day and night.

Grace and Peace,


Dr. Tim Bruster
Senior Pastor

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