Orthodox Thought for the Day


Sunday, February 2, 2014

A word on anger part 1

Be angry and sin not:  let not the sun go down upon your wrath.  Neither give place to the devil.  Ephesians 4:26-27 

From my personal experience, from my experience as a spiritual father, and from my observations in society, I have found that one of the endemic sins of contemporary mankind is anger.  This sin can be of a personal nature and also of a group nature.  The first is individual anger and the other is the anger of a people which can lead to destructive war, for a short or a long time, but executed with a cruelty which the technology of past centuries could not carry out… 

Personal anger transforms the heart of a man from a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit into a demonized house, because it changes the spiritual structure of the soul, orienting it toward the dark regions of the human being.  History knows disastrous events brought about by anger and tragic incidents caused by impetuous anger, which created regrets and hopelessness in he who allowed himself to be seized by it. 

The Holy Scripture is intensely preoccupied with the problem of anger.  In comparison to ancient times, our times give greater occasion for anger to manifest.  This is due to the great increase in the density of the population, which has reduced the personal security of the individual to a minimum.  The appearance of anger presents a major temptation which the devil uses to lure us, knowing that anger darkens the mind and equips the tongue and hands with a violence which gravely wounds… 

In chapter thirty-four of Genesis, there is a reason for the anger of Jacob’s sons.  The son of the prince of the country of Shalem dishonored Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah.  This deed provoked anger in Jacob’s sons who decided to avenge their sister, even though that youth asked Dinah to marry him. 

The place where Jacob had settled, not far from Shalem, was very convenient for this family to live for many reasons.  But his sons were roused to anger and the desire for revenge.  When the youth from Shalem asked for the hand of Dinah, his brothers answered deceitfully—that it would be shameful for their sister to marry one who is uncircumcised.  And they asked that all the males of the town be circumcised, and they accepted.  After two days, when all the men were still in pain, Jacob’s sons entered the city at night with their servants and slew the fiancé, his father and all the men with the sword.  Then they robbed the city of all its wealth and took the women and children captive.  Thus, under the impulse of anger, they used the token of Abraham’s sacred covenant with God (circumcision) as a means of deception through which they carried out their revenge, disregarding the holy for their personal gratification. When Jacob found out, he said to his sons, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites (Genesis 34:30).   

And Jacob had to depart from that place with all who were with him and all his wealth, where he had desired to stay, because of the uncontrolled anger of his sons.  Behind him he left a spoiled city and murdered men, and he was followed by the hate and anger of the inhabitants of that region. 

This intervention of the devil in arousing the anger of the sons of Jacob and, as a result, the inhabitants of the region, was unto the fulfillment of the journey toward the Promised Land.  The meaning of this story is like all that happens as part of God’s will, through which He communicates something to us or drives us toward something which we must fulfill, but this does not mean that the sin of anger remains unpunished. 

The Christian, however, must not get angry.  He knows that God watches over him and that not a hair of his head falls without the Lord’s knowledge.  In relation to his neighbors, he must moderate his anger, because the Savior was not angered against those who mocked and crucified Him.  Will we get angry with our neighbor, knowing that he is created in the image of God?  Indeed, how can we utter words of anger against him if he did something to us, knowing well that we have done the same thing to him or to another, and even worse? 

Man today lives under such overwhelming pressure that his nerves are strained to the limit and even the slightest provocation arouses in him the sin of anger.  Causes for anger could be the child who does not listen to us, or the husband or wife who contradicts us, or the driver who cuts us off with his car, or only seems to us to cut us off, giving a motive for us to be roused to anger.  Even if, through self-restraint, our anger is not outwardly expressed or is not heard by the one who provoked it, it is still a sin, because it harms our soul and our heart.  It is an action against ourself, under the temptation of the devil to anger.  (to be continued)

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