The pressures of life in this present wicked system can make people feel angry. (Eccl. 7:7) Often, this anger leads to hatred and outright violence. Wars rage between and within countries, while family tensions bring conflict right into many homes. Such anger and violence have a long history. Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve, killed his younger brother Abel out of jealous anger. Cain committed this vile deed even though Jehovah had urged him to control his emotions and had promised to bless him if he did.—Read Genesis 4:6-8.
Despite his inherited imperfection, Cain had a choice in the matter. He could have held back his anger. That is why he bore clear responsibility for his violent act. Similarly, our imperfect state makes it harder for us to avoid anger and angry acts. And other powerful negative forces add stress in these “critical times.” (2 Tim. 3:1) For example, economic woes can put pressure on our emotions. Police and family-help organizations link crises in the financial system to an increase in angry outbursts and domestic violence.
Further, many of the people we come in contact with are “lovers of themselves,” “haughty,” and even “fierce.” It is very easy for bad characteristics like these to rub off on us and anger us. (2 Tim. 3:2-5) In fact, movies and TV programs often portray vengeance as noble and violence as a natural and justifiable solution to problems. Typical story lines lead viewers to look forward to the moment when the villain “gets what he deserves”—usually a violent end at the hands of the story’s hero.
Such propaganda promotes, not God’s ways, but “the spirit of the world” and of its angry ruler, Satan. (1 Cor. 2:12; Eph. 2:2; Rev. 12:12) That spirit caters to the imperfect flesh and is in total opposition to God’s holy spirit and its fruitage. Indeed, a fundamental teaching of Christianity is not to retaliate under provocation. (Read Matthew 5:39, 44, 45.) How, then, can we more fully apply Jesus’ teachings?