December 2 - 8
Like Father, Like Son
ANGER CAN MAKE US THOROUGHLY IRRATIONAL. On one occasion, an important businessman entered the dining car of the train in which he was traveling and ordered plum pudding. The waiter explained that they had no plum pudding. The businessman became angry. He roared at the waiter: "Don't you realize that you're talking to one of the most frequent customers of this railroad?"
The steward got off at the next stop and managed to get him some plum pudding. The passenger looked at it disdainfully and snorted, "Take it away! I'd rather be mad at the railroad."
God's anger is quite different. Never is He irrational. Never does He react in an unloving manner, and never are His attitudes toward us governed by selfishness. God's wrath against sin is another aspect of His love. If He did not hate sin and deal with the sinner, we would have reason to question the genuineness of His love.
Whereas anger, revenge, and strife destroy physical health and spiritual vitality, a positive, contented, optimistic attitude of mind contributes to health and spirituality. Is there any place for anger? What does the Bible mean when it speaks of God's anger? The lesson this week will answer these questions.
THE WEEK AT A GLANCE:
I. Happy, Healthy, Holy (Prov. 17:22).
II. Anger, Strife, and Revenge, Part 1 (Prov. 16:32).
III. Anger, Strife, and Revenge, Part 2 (Prov. 20:22; 24:29).
IV. The Wrath of the Almighty, Part 1 (Prov. 11:23).
V. God's Moral Response to Sin (John 3:16-21).
MEMORY TEXT: "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones" (Proverbs 17:22, NIV).
Happiness has been a major quest of humankind from time immemorial. Unfortunately, most people have ruled out fellowship with God as the source of genuine happiness. The book of Proverbs brings us back to that Source.
Happiness results in what well-organized benefit? Prov. 17:22; 18:14; 12:25; 15:15.
The Hebrew word translated "merry" in the King James version means "joyful," "glad." The type of merriment intended is not boisterous hilarity but a sense of peace and freedom from guilt and fear. It is also contentment with the circumstances of life. Such contentment is determined more by the state of a person's heart than by the value of his or her possessions. It is as Jesus taught: "'Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes" (Luke 12:23, NIV).
"The pessimist worries so much about the past, which he cannot alter, and the future, which he cannot know, that he does not use wisely the present, which alone is his. This attitude of gloom colors his vision and reacts upon others. The glad, contented heart finds a feast in a little thankfully received, forgets the troubles that are behind, and looks forward with joy and confidence to a future under the loving care of a heavenly Father."The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 1000.
Four hundred years ago, Robert Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, cited authorities who said, "Humor purges the blood, making the body lively and fit for any manner of employment." The philosopher Immanuel Kant believed a hearty laugh to be "a good way to jog internally without going outdoors."
On the other hand, research of grieving persons has revealed a decrease in the number of white blood cells, the "soldiers" that combat germs. Grief weakens the body's defenses that fight disease. Significantly, it is bone marrow that manufactures blood cells.
Who is it that finds true happiness? Matt. 5:3-12.
|How could you be filled with contentment, peace, and joy under the following circumstances? (1) You have been laid off work and cannot find another job. (2) Your boss, who is not sympathetic with your religious faith, enjoys making fun of you in front of others. (3) Your daughter, who is about to be married, has been involved in a car accident. (4) You have just discovered your son or daughter has AIDS.|
What causes of strife do the following verses point out?
Prov. 13:10 _____________________________________________________________________
Prov. 17:19 _____________________________________________________________________
Prov. 22:10 _____________________________________________________________________
Prov. 26:20 _____________________________________________________________________
Prov. 30:33 _________________________________________________________________
The Lord does not hate in the human sense, in a spirit of selfish vindictiveness, but because sin is completely alien to His nature, He is totally antagonistic to it. This is why the Bible teaches that God hates lies and discord. (See Prov. 6:16, 19.) There is no disharmony in heaven, and the Lord seeks to bring human beings into peaceful fellowship with Himself and with one another. "When the ways of people please the Lord, he causes even their enemies to be at peace with them" (Prov. 16:7, NRSV). Jesus taught the danger of anger (Matt. 5:21-24) and instructed us to love our enemies (v. 44).
What descriptive words does Solomon apply to the individual who quickly becomes angry? Prov. 14:17, 29; 19:19.
When we lose our temper, we are actually not in control of our reason. We are reacting rather than acting. Having temporarily lost our mind and thrown out the life principles we had so carefully chosen, we say and do things we later regret. We become fools.
Bad temper can become a habit. Today's English Version translates Proverbs 19:19: "If someone has a hot temper, let him take the consequences. If you get him out of trouble once, you will have to do it again." Bad temper is a return to immature ways of reacting. Certain stimuli suggest a negative mode of behavior that has become customary. The only escape from this vicious circle is to allow God to take control of the mind and heart. For "God will be to us everything we will let Him be."Our High Calling, p. 131.
|Habit is an important factor in life. Why do we need habits as the basis for living?|
When two people are consistently hurting one another, how can they break the cycle of action and reaction? Prov. 20:22; 24:29.
As long as both parties operate on the basis of the principle that "one bad turn deserves another," they will continue the fight. This is the stuff of which family feuds are made, with human life being destroyed figuratively, as well as literally. If only someone would be big enough to forgive! It matters not so much who started the quarrel as who ends it peaceably.
Those who are slow to anger and control their tempers have achieved a great victory. They are "better than the mighty" or one "who captures a city" (Prov. 16:32, NRSV). But controlling negative emotions, forgiving a person who has wronged us, and overcoming bitterness are a first choice. Forgiveness is not feeling forgiving; neither is it saying that a wrong is right. Forgiveness is giving to God one's right to revenge. Then "wait for the Lord, and He will deliver you" (Prov. 20:22, NIV).
"It is true there is an indignation that is justifiable, even in the followers of Christ. When they see that God is dishonored, and His service brought into disrepute, when they see the innocent oppressed, a righteous indignation stirs the soul. Such anger, born of sensitive morals, is not a sin. But those who at any supposed provocation feel at liberty to indulge anger and resentment are opening the heart to Satan. Bitterness and animosity must be banished from the soul if we would be in harmony with heaven."The Desire of Ages, p. 310. (See Eph. 4:26.)
What principle does Romans 14:13 give us upon which we can base our relationship with others?
Are there stumbling blocks in your path? Even they do not constitute a legitimate excuse for bad temper, for God knows how to deal with them.
"If we are creatures of circumstance, we shall surely fail of perfecting Christian characters. You must master circumstances, and not allow circumstances to master you. You can find energy at the cross of Christ."Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 47.
|In your own experience, what good methods have you employed in counteracting the causes of strife and discord?|
"If I'm not supposed to get mad, why can God?" This kind of question draws more than one kind of response. A typical but shallow and inaccurate answer would be: "Well, God is ruler and master of everything, so He has the right to do whatever He wants. You don't question Him."
At the other extreme is "What do you mean? God can get mad? Why, that is contrary to His nature! He would never hurt anything!"
Both answers present problems. The first pictures our loving Father-God as a wise, powerful, but severe and arbitrary dictator who has neither time for nor interest in our questions and who cares for nothing from His subjects but immediate and absolute compliance. The opposite view sees the all-powerful Creator as an indulgent parent who cannot bear to bring an evildoer to justice but who lets things run their natural course rather than interpose. Such incomplete pictures of God fail to portray the truth about Him.
What can people expect when they do not experience righteousness? Prov. 11:5, 23.
The consistent teaching of Scripture is that only the righteous will enjoy eternal life with Christ. (See Matt. 25:46; Heb. 12:14.) The sinner who refuses to accept Christ's power to stop sinning and the gift of His righteousness has no hope beyond the grave. (See Rev. 20:9, 15.)
When Moses insisted on a revelation of God's glory, what did he see, and what did he hear? Exod. 34:5-7.
What he saw _______________________________________________________________________
What he heard ________________________________________________________________
What two aspects of God's love do we notice in Exodus 34:7?
|Think about your life and how at times you may have disappointed God. Aren't you glad He is slow to anger?|
At the end of yesterday's lesson, we studied the picture of God that appears in Exodus 34:5-7. From this description, we can know that the Old Testament does not portray God as a harsh God whom we must indulge. Think of other places in the Old Testament that portray God according to the picture in Exodus 34:5-7.
How does this depiction of God's character harmonize with the severity of His judgments described in the following passages?
Gen. 6:5-7, 11-13 ___________________________________________________________________
Gen. 18:32; 19:24, 25 _______________________________________________________________
Exod. 11:4-7 __________________________________________________________________
Did God cause this destruction? Explain your answer.
"God is Himself the source of all mercy. . . . He does not ask if we are worthy of His love, but He pours upon us the riches of His love to make us worthy. He is not vindictive. He seeks not to punish, but to redeem. Even the severity which He manifests through His providences is manifested for the salvation of the wayward.. . . It is true that God 'will by no means clear the guilty' (Exodus 34:7), but He would take away the guilt."Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 22.
In both His teachings and His life, Jesus demonstrated what God is like (John 14:9). The God of the Sermon on the Mount and the God who destroyed the world by the Flood are one and the same. (See 2 Pet. 3:5, 6; Heb. 13:8.) While God expresses Himself most fully in the life of Christ, the tragic existence of sin requires His intervention.
Extreme situations sometimes require major "surgery," as in the cases of both the antediluvian world and the city of Sodom. Civilization in general had become so vile as to be a moral menace to humanity. Because God is perfect in character, perfect in wisdom, in love, in righteousness, and in justice, He can not do other than deal in perfect fairness with evil and with sinners who persist in it (Heb. 10:30). Calvary fully demonstrated this fairness. Read John 3:16-21.
|Realizing that the eternal Judge is my friend, who is on my side, what keeps me from enjoying a closer relationship with Him?|
What do the following stories teach us about anger, strife, and contentment: Genesis 37? Deuteronomy 11?
To learn more about what constitutes true happiness, read "The Sermon on the Mount," in The Desire of Ages, pp. 298-314.
"The presence of Christ alone can make men and women happy. All the common waters of life Christ can turn into the wine of heaven. The home then becomes as an Eden of bliss; the family, a beautiful symbol of the family in heaven."The Adventist Home, p. 28.
SUMMARIZE this week's lesson by answering the following questions: Is there any place for anger? Explain your answer. What does the Bible mean when it speaks of God's anger?
Happiness and contentment are treasures of superlative value. The peace that Christ imparts is far superior to any so-called happiness the world has to offer. Nothing need disturb that peace, for it is not dependent on outward circumstances. Even though others may try to make life miserable for us, though anger and strife rage around us, we can be kept in the peace of heaven, for nothing can disturb us when Jesus dwells within. Then, as children of God, we shall be like our Father.
Celestine is a teenager from the country of Chad in the heart of Africa. Her family worshiped traditional gods-trees, stones, and plants. They had no knowledge of Jesus Christ until Celestine's elder brother visited an Adventist church with a friend. Celestine asked her brother if she could go with him to the church, and he agreed. She enjoyed the youth group and the activities they planned. They held Bible study meetings, played sports together, and shared their faith with others.
Celestine's parents noticed a difference in their children's behavior and asked what had changed them. When Celestine told them that it was God's Word that made a difference, her parents decided to visit the church to see what could cause such a big difference. A year later her parents were baptized.
When Celestine entered secondary school she faced the problem of Sabbath classes. She decided that she would not attend classes on Sabbath, and although most of her teachers excused these absences, the decision caused some problems. Then as the end of her tenth grade year approached, she prepared to take the special exams students must pass in order to receive their diploma.
When the exam schedule was posted, she saw that exams were scheduled on Thursday through Saturday. Celestine decided that she would not take the exams on Sabbath, even though it meant that she might have to repeat the entire school year. She would take the exams on Thursday and Friday, but on Sabbath she would be in church.
Some of her friends laughed and called her a fool when she told them she would not take the exams on Sabbath.
Then, during the exams the headmaster announced that all sections of the exams would be completed by Friday afternoon, and there were no exams on Saturday. Celestine praised God for answering her prayers. But then she faced another problem. Some of her friends
began to say that she must be a witch to have the power to cancel the Saturday exams! Celestine told them that the only power she had was the power of prayer.
Celestine wants to do what is pleasing to God, and rejoiced when God allowed her to complete her exams to His glory.
Charlotte Ishkanian is editor of Mission.
Join the SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning with your local Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.
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