Memorize James 1:19

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Who, Not What
When you think about what you consider to be the source of your anger, do you envision a person? We think that it’s not our fault; it's their fault. They need to do something different. We think that it's a person causing this anger inside of us. But James tells us in chapter 4 that, most of the time, the source of your anger comes down to the fact that you're not getting what you want. The battle is within you. That was true for Cain. He wanted to be able to keep giving God his leftovers, instead of his best. Cain didn't want his brother to get the blessing that he wasn't getting. It came down to Cain not getting what he wanted and this is where most of our anger comes from too. We don't want to admit that though because it takes a lot of humility to say it or to see it.  Here's the equation for you to hang on to and remember when these feelings start building up inside you. You have to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. And so, you slow down, and you identify the anger. What are you wanting that you’re not getting? If you can check your blind spot and see that, then you're in a position to humble yourself and to surrender that over to God. James says in verse 20, he says human anger doesn't produce the righteousness that God desires. Human anger isn't going to bring about the life that God wants you to live. DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: Recall a time when your anger was caused by you not getting what you wanted. How should your response have been different in that situation?
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Appropriate Anger
After Cain has become angry and downcast that his offering was rejected by God, Genesis 4: 6-8 reads, “Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.' Now Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let’s go out to the field.' While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” Before Cain kills Abel, God asks Cain directly why he is angry and downcast. One of the things you to notice in these verses is that God, when Cain’s anger comes up, doesn't say to Cain that he should stop feeling that emotion and feel something else instead. He asks him why he's feeling that way. He wants Cain to identify it, and then he wants him to examine the root of it, because this examination often reveals our anger is not righteous.  Sometimes anger can be righteous when it has a purpose. We see in the Gospels that Jesus even got angry in certain situations, but yet he remained sinless. So anger does not equate sin or wrongdoing. Anger can have a purpose. It can be protective, but most of the anger that we feel and struggle with is not like this. However, stopping to reflect on what’s really going on is hard to do when you're angry, because when you're angry, you don't feel like pausing and asking questions. You don't feel like looking over your shoulder and checking your blind spot. Cain didn’t do this and it led him to sin in a heartbreaking way.  DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: When is a time that your anger has been righteous or protective? How did the results of this anger differ from times when you anger wasn’t righteous?
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Contagious Emotions
By looking at Genesis 4, we're going to talk about the blind spot of anger. In Genesis 4, we read that Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Beginning in verse 2, we read “Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.'" So we read about these two brothers who both give offerings to God. But Abel gives the fat portions and the firstborn of his flock. In other words, he gives the very best to God. But when Cain gives, it's merely the leftovers from his fields. God sees the person and the heart behind each offering. The Bible tells us that God blessed Abel's offering, but he rejected the offering of Cain. And Cain was very angry and his face was downcast in response to God’s rejection of his offering.  This actually is the first time that anger is ever mentioned in Scripture. One of the reasons that we are discussing the need to be able to identify our emotions, like anger, is because our emotions are contagious. Even without intentionally sharing your emotions, others can pick up on your expressed emotions and those emotions, whether good or bad, can be transmitted to them. So before you share any negative emotions with family or friends, take a minute and get to the cause of your anger. Why do you feel that way? Where's that anger coming from? DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: When have you experienced emotions being contagious? What can you to combat “catching” someone else’s negative emotions?