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 master it.” Genesis 4:6-7
At the very front end of Cain’s anger and frustration, before it had lead to anything permanently damaging, God warned him. “Cain, you better get control of this anger, or it will get control of you.” Well, that’s my paraphrase. God was warning Cain about a part of the human condition to which we often turn a blind eye: anger is not something to leave unattended. Unresolved anger, you see, turns into bitterness. And bitterness, over time, is a disease that spreads into our heart, our eyes, our brain, and a host of other places.
I have seen it way too many times in my ministry to churches in conflict. When passions get high and anger is left to fester over time, finding the truth about what really happened can become nearly impossible. That is because anger makes for a horrible historian. It twists the truth and blinds us to what really happened. The longer we stay angry, the less credibility we have for reporting what happened. However poor our retention rate is for facts and figures we have seen or heard, our retention rate for what we felt is almost perfect. So, in situations which anger us, if that anger is left alone to do its dirty work, we later remember how we felt and then back into the rest of the facts in a way which supports how we felt. In other words, our brain fills in the gaps and recalls events in a way …
With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:6-8
Father’s Day is nigh upon us…just a little less than two weeks away. It is not too early to start thinking about what (for most of us) is the most difficult gift of the whole year to find. What in the world will you give him for Father’s Day? He is so very difficult to buy for! Whenever he needs something, he just goes and gets it…what could I possibly get him that he doesn’t already have? A tie? Did I give him that last year? Did I really give him a tie last year!? How cliche is that!? I am so embarrassed.
This passage out of Micah got me thinking about God and what He really wants from His church (from His bride) and what we could possibly give Him, and I wondered…What do you give the God Who has everything?
Some would answer we should give Him our very best gathered worship…excellence in music, in preaching, in communion, in corporate prayer…that we should give Him a truly amazing gathered worship expression week after week. They might cite Psalm 22:3 (our God inhabits praise).
Others would answer the church should give Him our broken Spirits and contrite hearts…that what …