I was praying earlier and I asked the Lord to give me a word. He gave me the word "Levi". Now I know the Apostle Matthew was Levi when his occupation was tax collector. However, the gentleman I was looking for was Levi in the book of Genesis.
As I started reading about Levi it astonished me at what I read. Here's a little history on Levi. Levi is the third son of Jacob. He was one of those that plotted against Joseph and sold him into slavery. While Levi and his family were living in Shechem his sister Dinah was raped but the rapist still wanted to marry his sister. Levi and His brother deceptively agreed and said they would be in agreement if the people would be circumcised. All the while they had evil in their heart and they never had the intentions of giving their sister to the Shecamites. Three days after the Shecamites were circumcised Levi and his brother Simeon attacked and murdered them all. When Jacob asked Levi and Simeon "Why would you do this and cause division in the land and cause so many to rise up against me and my household?" They responded "Should he treat our sister like a harlot?"
I think about this circumstance and it troubles me. If we look at this through a fleshly perspective we would say " I would of done the same." BUT, how are we supposed to look at this spiritually?
The bible says
"Be angry and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath.
What does that mean? How can I be angry and not sin?
The definition of "Anger" in Hebrew and in Greek is "nostrils" suggesting the violent, quick breathing—or even snorting—of an enraged person. "Rage," "temper," "wrath," "indignation," and "fury" all cluster around this concept of rhythmically snorting nostrils.
The definition of "Wrath" is the personal manifestation of God's holy, moral character in judgment against sin. Wrath is not impersonal or fitful like anger.
When I think of the word impersonal I think about times in my past when I became so angry that I didn't care who I hurt or what happened because of my actions. Levi expressed these impersonal feelings of anger by killing everyone. Levi's sister was wrongly done and because of my personal experiences I understand that this is a very touchy and complicated situation but ask yourself is fighting evil with evil the solution? Did returning the favor help the situation? Does revenge bring peace or does forgiveness bring peace?
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
When we hold anger and contempt in our heart towards another person we hurt ourselves more than anything. We hurt ourselves in our spiritual walk and in our physical walk. I don't know about you but when I would get extremely upset my body physically became sick and if I held on to that anger long enough it turned into un-forgiveness and depression. It hurts us spiritually because scripture says that if we don't forgive those that trespass against us then we won't be forgiven our trespass.
An example of that un-forgiveness and ignorance of God's word is written in Exodus
But the LORD Hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had spoken to Moses.
I'm sure your familiar with the story of Moses and Pharaoh. Pharaoh was hurt by Moses rejection of joining him in his ruling. He was humiliated that Moses was choosing to side with the Hebrews which the Pharaoh looked at as weakly slaves and servants to himself. He had ANGER for Moses rising up against him. The LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart because of his continued resistance of God's plan for the Hebrew people. If Pharaoh had just let the Hebrews go none of the plagues, famine, and death would of happened. When we are angry we curse ourselves and those around us. The bible says
You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.
Matthew 5: 21-22
That is coming from Jesus! He said that those who anger have already committed murder in his heart. That truly hit home with me and it made me want to consider my ways. Do I let my anger control me or do I control my anger? I know that every day I strive to become more like Christ. So, let's examine what kind of anger is acceptable and what kind of anger is unacceptable.
This next scripture is a perfect example of what we should do with our anger
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4: 31-32
Those words are hard to swallow sometimes. When we feel wronged and hurt by someone it's very easy to give into those negative feelings and express ourselves in a sinful and angry way. It's hard to turn the other cheek and forgive but, that is our duty as followers of Christ. We are to work towards restoring people into a loving and healing relationship with Jesus. Sometimes people lash out at others because that is all they have ever been shown throughout life. If we don't show them love and forgiveness how will they ever learn to be kind and come to know the ways of Jesus Christ?
It is okay to be angry at things that are unrighteous and blatant disregard for the truth in God's word. How we address the situation is what determines if in our anger we sin as well. Jesus was angry with the moneychangers and animal sellers when he cleared the temple. His anger was justified because He was protecting God's house of worship. They were endangering the holiness of the Temple by making it a place of business instead of place of reverence to God. He was also angry at the Pharisees.
"And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts,"
What form of action did Jesus take after these feelings of anger?
He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.
Jesus still provided love and healing for the man with the withered hand! God wants us and children in his kingdom to reflect the image of Christ by being fair, just, and merciful. We are to walk humbly loving one another with our whole heart. It is okay to feel anger towards a person's sin and it is even okay to speak out against that sin but, we should also take action into helping that person to Christ. Instead of expressing hostility towards them.
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James 1: 19-20
So let's summarize the differences of righteous anger and unrighteous anger
- RIGHTEOUS ANGER
- Being angry for the right reasons such as untruth and sin.
- Anger should target sinful behavior and injustice.
- Take proper action. Jesus was grieved over the sin because of His love for the Pharisees It had nothing to do with hatred or ill-will.
- Anger SHOULD NOT control us. We should control our anger.
- We shouldn't allow our anger to go past a certain point. There should be no grudges held.
- Our response to anger should be to always accomplish God's will which is to lead those in sin
to Christ because that is the same action Jesus took. As followers of Christ we should look to the Word of God to understand healthy and unhealthy anger and to exam ourselves and become more like Christ. God can help us with anger and direct it and use it in ways that benefit the Kingdom.
If we choose to ignore God's instruction and give into our anger it can only lead down a destructive path of unrighteousness.
Jacob's dying words to his son were
"Simeon and Levi are brothers; Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place, Let not my soul enter their council; Let not my honor be united to their assembly; For in their anger they slew a man, And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; And their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob And scatter them in Israel."
What heartbreaking words to hear from his dad. How much more should we not want to hear those words on the day of judgment because of anger that we could not let go of. How much more should we want to set aside that unrighteous anger and help that person that is in sin to know the redeemer of ALL.
For God so LOVED the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
I hope this message will give you the motivation to think before speaking, to pause before taking action the next time you should anger. I know it truly hit home with me and I will be applying it to my walk with Christ from now on. I love you guys! If you need prayer please feel free to comment below. You don't have to tell me the exact need if you're not comfortable with that. I would love to pray for you and I also would love any feedback if this has helped you! Go with God!
Scripture references from www.biblegateway.com and The New Spirit-Filled Life Bible NKJV
Definition references from www.bibletools.com Strong's definitions
Levi references from The New Spirit-Filled Life Bible and The Nelson New Illustrated Bible Dictionary