Herodias; Murder, Fits of Rage

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“No wire hangers! What’s wire hangers doing in this closet when I told you no wire hangers?! EVER!!!! I work till I’m half dead and I hear people say she’s getting old! What do I get? A daughter who cares as much about a beautiful dress I give her as she cares about me. What’s wire hangers doing in this closet?! Answer me! I buy you beautiful dresses and you treat ’em like some dishrag! You threw a 300-dollar dress on a wire hanger! We’ll see how many you got hidden in here, we’ll see! All of this is coming out! Out! Out! Out! Out! We’re gonna see how many wire hangers you got in your closet! Wire hangers.

Why? Why? Christina, get out of that bed! Get out of that bed! (picks up hanger and begins to beat Christina) You live in the most beautiful house in Brentwood and you don’t care about crease marks from wire hangers, and your room looks like some two dollar unfurnished room in some two- bit backstreet town in Oklahoma! Get up! Clean up this mess! Did you scrub the bathroom floor today? Did you?” – Joan Crawford

Mommie Dearest is a 1981 American biographical film describing Christina Crawford’s abuse as a little girl by her adoptive mother, actress Joan Crawford. A movie I watched as a young girl, I remember cowering with wide eyes as Faye Dunaway screamed and beat Christina with the wire hanger thankful my mommy was not this tyrannical woman who wreaked havoc everywhere she went.

Thankfully, our Lord addresses these types of anger issues; Paul calls them “fits of rage,” and justifiably so. These are outward furies and frenzies by an individual who has no sense of self-control. The screaming and yelling while throwing objects in a relentless tirade is not a fruit of our precious Lord. “The enemy comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come so that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]” (John 10:10). Usually when the temper tantrum is over, exhaustion sets in. The enemy loves to make us feel guilty for the outrageous display of selfishness and the apologies ensue. Why can we not control ourselves before the spirit of anger rises? If we do not control our anger and hatred, these fits of disgraceful destruction, can turn vindictive and murderous.

A young girl is used as a pawn. A lustrous, sexual dance leaves a king and his fellow comrades breathless. Overwhelmed with the young temptress, the king offers the lass anything she wants up to half his kingdom. Sauntering over to her mother, Herodias, Salome asks, “What should I ask for?” The venomous smile slowly draws wide as hatred flickers through wicked eyes, “John the Baptist’s head!”

Amid the putrefying influence of the palace, John the Baptist was one of the only men who did not fear Herodias. Her husband, Herod, regarded John as a holy and just man whom he heard gladly, but Herodias seethed with vengeance when the preacher rebuked her marriage to her brother-in-law.   The greatest preacher, who prepared the way for our Lord, was murdered by a vile and vicious woman who could not hear the Truth, for her pride and deceitful desires infiltrated her heart [1]. A dark and powerful force controlled this woman; she allowed a spirit of murder to enter into her causing death to a righteous man. Hatred turns into rage. Rage progresses to schemes. Malicious schemes evolve into murder, truly a downward spiral toward evil and darkness.

Woman, I will remind you to not forget Cain or Judas Iscariot. The Lord told Cain before he murdered his brother to master what was surrounding and enclosing on him. God revealed the anger, hatred, and schemes surfacing in Cain’s heart. The young man was called to close the door on darkness, but he chose his own evil desires. The same is true of Judas; Satan entered into Judas as he ran off to betray our Lord and Savior, “It was during supper, when the devil had already put [the thought of] betraying Jesus into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son…” and “After [Judas had taken] the piece of bread, Satan entered him” (John 13:2, 13:27).   When Christians accept the thought or behavior Satan entices with, beware, for destruction is not too far behind, “The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy…”

Our precious Lord addressed the issues, encouraging His followers to master them. Jesus of Nazareth makes intense statements during His preaching on the mount, “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘Whoever murders shall be guilty before the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice against him shall be guilty before the court; and whoever speaks [contemptuously and insultingly] to his brother, Raca (You empty-headed idiot)!’ shall be guilty before the supreme court (Sanhedrin); and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of the fiery hell.

The Apostle Paul also tackles spiritual warfare to the Galatians when he profoundly writes “But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. For the sinful nature has its desire, which is opposed to the Spirit, and the desire of the Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these two are in direct opposition to each other, so that you do not do whatever you want to do. But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law” (Galatians 5:16-18).

Fits of rage or anger or a brutal temper are not of our Lord Jesus Christ or a fruit of the Christian walk. The offshoots of anger are bitterness, resentment, jealousy, selfishness, malicious thoughts and schemes, hatred, divisions, and un-forgiveness. If we hold onto these spirits within our hearts, we will never reach God’s full potential for our lives. We will need to let go of the desire to be right all the time, the desire for vengeance, the desire for division, the desire for retaliation, and guilt, which many use as a crutch for maintaining their anger. “I just can’t help the way I am!” Yes, we’ve all heard that blather more than we would like to remember. The response should be, “Yes, you can control yourself and act as a follower of Christ!”

I want to stress in the next few paragraphs, there is a time for righteous anger; a time to display anger at the right source, but it should never consume or over take our spirits. There is also a time to let go; a time to forgive, and a time to reconcile from arguments. Not all anger is the derivative of murder, such as with Herodias as she demanded the head of John the Baptist. Not all anger is as the wicked queen Jezebel, but righteous, directed toward ungodliness.

R. Kent Hughes in his book, The Sermon on the Mount; the Message of the Kingdom, stresses Jesus’ sermon does not forbid all anger, for our Lord was fuming when we cleared the temple in John 2:13-22. He was livid with those who beset Him for healing on the Sabbath (Mark 3:5). “We can conclude that there is a place for anger. Jesus was angry at sin and injustice, but He never became angry at personal insult or affront. 1 Peter 2:23, ‘When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.’ We see there is a place for righteous anger, but in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is speaking of unrighteous anger, and His words leave no doubt about what He means” [2]

We are quick to get angry at personal attacks, but slow to become annoyed with sin and injustice. Christ emphasizes we not think we are safe because we have not committed murder or shed blood. We are guilty when we harbor malevolent thoughts and schemes. Wishing someone would get what is coming to him or her is a malevolent thought. I have had them. I have repented. Jesus of Nazareth preaches His sermon to His followers to not hold animosity and spite in your hearts, “So if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and while there you remember that your brother has something [such as a grievance or legitimate complaint] against you, leave your offering there at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come and present your offering. Come to terms quickly [at the earliest opportunity] with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way [to court], so that your opponent does not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you are thrown into prison. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid the last cent” (Matthew 5:21-26).

Guilty if we are angry? Guilty if we harbor malice in our hearts? Guilty if call someone an idiot? Guilty if we call someone a fool? Make peace with the person I hold an offense against? Is this truly what Christ was portraying to His people? These are strong statements from our Savior. He means what He says and we must recognize within ourselves any nastiness or aversion to another. We are called to master these thoughts, reactions, and behaviors as followers of Christ.

Once we recognize and God reveals this within our spirit, do not cast blame as Eve or become accustomed to the familiar feeling of spirit of anger, we must make peace within our hearts. I say in our hearts, because many people have no intention of making amends. The perpetrator refuses to admit guilt or responsibility for the pain they have caused. Their iniquities seem to befuddle them and are completely blinded by a dark and veiled shroud of deceit. No matter the offender’s disposition, you are called to make peace within your spirit. Otherwise, the seed planted will begin to take root. It’s thorns of bitterness, resentment, and hatred will sprout. Inside of your heart and spirit, darkness will begin to affect other areas of your life. You may develop a distrust of all people, keeping a keen eye on everyone’s behavior, becoming judge and jury of all you meet. You become critical of everything that offends you and voice your opinions to any and all that will listen. Friendships are difficult to keep, and your marriage may suffer. This is the harvest of bitterness and un-forgiveness. Miserable and joyless. How are we to move past these destructive and deceitful behaviors, with which we may hold on to?

If we have accepted Christ into our hearts, have been baptized in submersion of water, and have received the Holy Spirit as our Helper, Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor – Counselor, Strengthener, and Stand-by, the Spirit of Truth, then we have all we need to rebuke and renew our spirits with the fruits of Christ. Our minds and hearts need to be concentrated and fixed on Scripture. The Words of God need to establish a root system in order to continually fill our being with good fruit. You are required to water and feed the plants with the Word of God. Remember, Jesus told the woman at the well He would give her living water, which would rise and bubble up within her as a spring welling to eternal life (John 4:13-14).

Reading God’s Word daily, memorizing Scripture, and dedicating time to spend with Jesus are adjustments you will need to make in order to sustain a spirit of peace and not anger. The Bible says, “seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14), and make ever effort to enter the rest of God (Hebrews 4:11).” There is an indescribable peace and rest Christians have. We receive it from Christ as a free gift, but we are to diligent seek it and pursue it. No matter the trial, tribulation, or struggle, Christians should remain in a peaceful state, trusting God in all things. It is when we leave this state, where the enemy comes to steal your joy, mind, and heart.

The Lord desires His people to know Him and the power of the cross. If God has revealed a spirit of hatred within you, you are called to confront those feelings; pray and give it God. This step sounds easy to write and say, but it is extremely difficult. I once experienced this after a group of people cut me to the core. I cried for five months straight and would not give the situation to God. The group didn’t deserve my forgiveness. The individuals needed to hurt like I hurt. The ones who caused pain needed to feel the pain I felt in my heart when I had to tell myself to breathe crying from a broken heart. I was angry and harbored hatred in my spirit. Justifiably so by the world’s standards, I was filled with bitterness and my peace was gone. I had no witness to those around me; I affected no one with the Gospel of Christ. I was angry. I was hurt. I wanted vindication. I wanted God to act in the way I saw fit; I was disobedient. But God was patient.

After months of tears, I began to pray. I cannot live like this. Father, you will have to show me how to let it go. As I began to pray out loud, Scriptures would come to my heart to pray over the offenders. As hard as it was, I journeyed down a path of forgiveness. This path has taken two years to whole-heartedly let go. Only by God’s Words, His grace allowed me to express my anger, rage, and hurt honestly and openly, and His love penetrated my spirit. Forgiveness. I could breathe again.

I pursued peace. I repented for being obstinate, disrespectful, and prideful. Not only forgiveness towards the group of people was difficult, but the shame I felt for lashing out at God and my family has burned a scar into my spirit. I am thankful for the Word of God for it brought healing to my body and strength to my bones (Proverbs 3:8).

Several Scriptures to pray over your mind and anger, rebuking a spirit of rage are:

“Do not conform to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]” (Romans 12:2).

“Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], so to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]; for the [resentful, deep-seated] anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us]” (James 1:20).

“The [arrogant] fool’s anger is quickly known [because he lacks self-control and common sense], but a prudent man ignores an insult” (Proverbs 12:16).

“He who is slow to anger has great understanding [and profits from self-control], but he who is quick-tempered exposes and exalts his foolishness [for all to see]” (Proverbs 14:35).

“A man of great anger will bear the penalty [for his quick temper and lack of self-control]; for if you rescue him [and do not let him learn from the consequences of his action], you will only have to rescue him over and over again” (Proverbs 19:19).

I found two hundred and ninety verses on anger in the AMP Bible. God’s Word is full of precious promises for you to claim and lay hold of, including a sound mind, one that is peaceful and stable. I do not want to be considered a fool in God’s eyes, nor known as a woman who cannot control her emotions. What kind of example am I sharing with my family and to those outside of our faith?

I pray this has planted a seed of peace and to seek God for the Truth regarding your emotions. We can go to God for everything, including healing for our outbursts and considering the reason behind our fits of rage. If you recognize these behaviors within your heart, I pray you are mastering it. The spirit of rage and anger are terrible and frightening. If a video or slow motion camera captured your face while screaming in a tantrum, what would be played back for all to see? Just as any root, you will need to take time and weed the sucker plants. These dark seeds planted in your heart are sucking the peace out of your life.

I would keep a journal. Pray and ask the Lord where does the rage come from? What is witnessed as a young child? Was your household run out of fear or was this a learned response from selfish actions? Journal Scripture that God reveals to your heart and being a daily prayer over your mind. When you feel the anger coming, and you will feel it coming from the depths of your soul, walk away. It is during the practice of and seeking peace, where you will practice self-control.

Walk away from the person or persons inflaming the anger. Pray Scripture until you can calm down, then return and speak from a rational mind. If you feel the anger surfacing again, walk away until the Holy Spirit can relax and refresh your heart. I have had to do these countless times. Whether my children, husband, family members, friends, church, outings, driving, shopping, or vacation, things just seem to annoy us. Instead of allowing the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy your emotions, master them with the Word of God. I promise, the more you can walk away, monitor what you are putting into your spirit such as violent movies, television shows, or music, and replacing old habits with new godly ones, the spirit of rage and anger will begin to subside. It will not happen over night, but will be a daily process. Remember, you are a child of the Most High, more than a conqueror, and Princess of God. I believe you can be all you are called to be as long as we keep in the forefront of our minds who we are.

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