Teachings of Jesus: Don’t be Angry
As I read Scripture I am always amazed by the words of Jesus. However, few teachings of Jesus challenge me more than what he says in Matthew 5: 21-26:
5:21 You have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment. And whoever insults a brother will be brought before the council, and whoever says ‘Fool’ will be sent to fiery hell. 23 So then, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your gift. 25 Reach agreement quickly with your accuser while on the way to court, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the warden, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny! -NET
Here we see Jesus discussing the Old Testament law against murder. Obviously, we all agree that murder is wrong. If you don’t agree the you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog…anyway…Jesus then does something interesting. He takes this OT law to a deeper level, as he often does, by incorporating the common underlying reason for murder. We see this when Jesus says:
‘Whoever murders will be subject to judgement.’ But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment.
Here Jesus connects the act of murder with anger. Many would say his connection is a little extreme but anger is often the cause of many gross offenses towards others who are created in the image of God. Anger can lead to backstabbing, verbal abuse, and yes, even murder. Jesus’ teachings are often about looking into a person’s heart for change instead of simply managing behavior. God does not only want people who do the right thing. God is creating a group of changed people. I also like this passage because Jesus doesn’t just highlight the fact that anger can lead to murder but, like I mentioned earlier, it can cause harm to someone’s character. Notice what Jesus says:
And whoever insults a brother will be brought before the council, and whoever says ‘Fool’ will be sent to fiery hell.
God is concerned with unity among his people and nothing can rip apart a community faster than anger. Most people reading this blog could probably guess what the word “fool” means but if you don’t know here is what this word (mōros in Greek) means according to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament:
2) impious, godless
Jesus is most likely referring to the first definition meaning dumb or stupid and those in ministry are sure to engage people that are quick to pronounce others foolish. Of course, people like that can create disunity in the community and Jesus assuredly knows this by his words in verses 23-24 when he says:
‘So then, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your gift.’
There is some debate about what the “gift” is referring to but most commentators assert that the gift Jesus refers to here is worship. Despite some people suggesting other things the thrust of Jesus’ words cannot be missed. If you have beef with another person in the community of believers do not let a second go by before making that wrong right. If you are the person that was wronged be quick to forgive. If you are the wrongdoer then ask for forgiveness. This is essential to creating a great community.
Even though Jesus knows that we all will mess up we still should strive to not cause disunity within the body of Christ. We need to be changed from the inside. Our attitudes, thoughts, and hearts need change and we should all pray towards that end. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:18:
And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Thanks for reading.