Six of the sins I listed in the beginning of my series on sin all pretty much go together: murder, strife, malice, anger, rage, and brawling – they are all a progression of one sin.
Let me define them all real quick just so we know exactly what we’re discussing.
- Strife = angry or bitter disagreement over fundamental issues; conflict
- Malice = the intention or desire to do evil; ill will
- Anger = a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility
- Rage = violent, uncontrollable anger
- Brawling = fight or quarrel in a rough or noisy way
- Murder = the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another
Okay, stay with me here in this progression. Usually, we begin with strife, some kind of conflict that arises over a disagreement. Then it increases to malice when we actually want to hurt someone else. This increases in anger which, if left unchecked, leads into rage – which is uncontrollable. Once in a rage-state we usually end up brawling, getting into a rough/noisy fight. And this rage can sometimes lead to murder.
Do you see the progression of strife to murder? Now, I’m not saying this always happens because most people have enough self-control to stop themselves in one of the other states from strife to brawling before it actually leads to murder. But I’m not here to tell Christians not to murder people as Christians murdering people is not really a common occurrence. My point is in the progression.
Strife arises in our lives all the time. It can come from your spouse, your children, other family members, friends, co-workers, even complete strangers. We can’t avoid strife completely because we can’t control other people. But there are two things that we can do:
- Don’t start strife. You can’t control other people, but you can control yourself. Don’t pick fights with people. Learn how to control your irritation or anger. It’s not easy, but it is possible. The Bible tells us to keep the peace as much as it is possible (Rom. 12:18).
- Don’t go beyond strife. We can see how sin progresses (James 1:13-15) but even if you get into strife, through your own actions or someone else’s, you can always end it there. Learn to forgive and let things go and nothing will go beyond the stage of strife in your life.
What we need to remember is that, while we see these sins as a progression, they are all equal in God’s eyes. If you are angry with someone, you’ve murdered them in your heart. Don’t just take my word for it! Jesus said it here:
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Matthew 5:21-22)
15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. (1 John 3:15)
We don’t see sins as being equal, but God does. When I get angry with my husband, I’m killing him in my mind. No, I’m not envisioning killing him – I haven’t been that angry. But Jesus said that to God that’s exactly what we’re doing, whether it’s conscious or not.
One of my favorite verses and one I brought up to my husband when we first got married was this:
26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27)
I told Justin that we could never allow ourselves to go to bed angry with one another. Why? Why is it so important not to go to bed angry?
Well, I’ve seen studies that show that whatever you think about or feel when you go to bed will not only still be there in the morning, but it will intensify because your unconscious mind has been dwelling on it in your dreams. So, if I go to bed angry at Justin, when I wake up I will feel angrier, bitter, and resentful toward him.
I wish I could say we’ve stuck to this principle. Most of the time we make sure to resolve things before the lights go out, but every once in a while I refuse to make up with him before bed. And I always regret it because the next day is usually miserable.
When we fight with other people, we are giving the devil a foothold into our lives. He’ll use it to isolate us and lead us into more and more sin. That’s why it is so important to learn self-control, how to calm yourself when you’re angry, and how to forgive and let things go.
We can’t do any of this on our own, but with God’s help, He can do all things in us and through us.
I pray this post helps you guys today as it is helping me as I write it.
I love you guys and pray you have a mightily blessed weekend!