Don’t let them in

Reading: Matthew 9:1-8

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?” – Matthew 9:4 (NIV)

Jesus’ message is clear that we should not even be having evil thoughts—don’t even open the door on them, don’t let them in, don’t entertain them! Just the thought of evil makes us sin against God (Matthew 5:27-28), and if we do not get to arrest it right away—we even end up using the parts of our bodies in committing the evil act—either against ourselves or against our fellowmen, or both.

door_munyingnying@earthlytraveler

In the book of Genesis, we read that Cain was angry, and his anger was directed at God. We often think of God responding in such a case with fire coming down from heaven and purging us for good—but He actually dealt with Cain in a very personal, gracious and loving way:

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.” – Genesis 4:6-7 (NIV)

When I read the verse above, I thought—indeed, the Lord is our Wonderful Counsellor (Isaiah 9:6)! We would have thought that “processing our feelings” is a modern-day approach in psychology, but apparently it is not:

Why are you angry?

Why is your face downcast?

angry man 2_earthlytravelerwordpress

The Lord encourages us to look deeper into and evaluate our feelings—how did it come about? At what point did it surface? Was it because somebody has wronged me, or was it me who actually committed the first offence?

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?

Proving that it was Cain’s/my/our fault, the Lord continues to reason, showing us the right path. And if we choose the wrong path? He gives us a warning:

But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door

And continues to encourage us to overcome:

It desires to have you, but you must rule over it

Cain did not heed God, and went on to kill his brother. The consequences of his evil act were that prosperity was withheld from his livelihood, he lost peace, and worst of all he was banished before God.

Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” – Genesis 4:13-14 (NIV)

Cain knew the severity of the consequences of his actions. It must have been a horrible realisation of the moment! Neither I would want to be away from God’s presence! I would like to think that Cain was repentant in the end–but whether he was or not, in his faithlessness, the Lord still proved himself to be faithful.

But the Lord said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no-one who found him would kill him. – Genesis 4:15 (NIV)

Our Lord is a God of second chances. But do not forget that at the end of this life we will face him as Judge.

Today, what are the thoughts that are knocking around our minds? Are we, like the teachers of the law doubting the Messiah—his deity, his authority, his mission to redeem us so that we could live our lives to the full, bringing glory to His name? Or are there people who have wronged us, causing us so much pain that we find it impossible to move on? What is my Wonderful Counsellor telling me now?

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” – Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
by Joseph M. Scriven, 1855

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

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