“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sisterwill be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Matthew 5:21-22
“Yeah, but what about this,” we might say, thinking we are righteously angry about something. Here’s a hard truth: “yeah, but” doesn’t hold water. In these verses, Jesus is calling people out for anger. Not just quick-tempered anger or anger that builds into resentment, then worse. All anger, not just the kind that spills over.
The kind of anger Jesus is talking about is the kind we feel when someone cuts us off on the road. Or when we find our kids drew all over important work papers. It’s that anger a wife feels when she comes home and finds dishes undone, kids unbathed, and husband playing video games. It’s the anger husbands feel when wives control their lives. It is the anger we feel when someone else gets the promotion we wanted, or when there’s yet another unreported scandal in our comfortably corrupt government. It’s any kind of anger, even anger we don’t confess.
Where does that kind of anger originate? You know. Tap yourself in the chest. It starts inside me and you, in our hearts. It starts when we forget to look at Jesus for everything, when we think we can go it on our own. It begins with the thoughts of “what about me” or “that’s not right” or “you know, that really ticks me off.”
“Yeah, but what about…” you might say, and part of me agrees with you. After all, we’re humans prospering here on the Third Rock, where #1 is the man in the mirror. We agree but now would be a good time to remember what Jesus thinks about “yeah, but.”
Jesus says our anger will subject us to judgment. Take that to heart.
Let anger crowd out Jesus and we’re in danger of the fires of hell. Satan laughs in delight when we cling to, “yeah, but.” The better way is to breathe in and breathe out, to let God and let go. When situations confront us and the anger, even righteous anger, seems to build, we need to step back and invite Jesus to take over. To confess our feelings and ask for His immediate help, replacing anger with His shalom. To turn anger into something that points to heaven instead of directing us into hell. Rule the emotion instead of the other way around.
For more reading: Exodus 20:13, Exodus 21:12, Deuteronomy 5:17, Ecclesiastes 7:9, Mark 9:43 & 48, Acts 5:21&27, 1 Corinthians 13:5, Ephesians 4:26, James 1:19-20, 1 John 3:15, Matthew 5:23
Lord Jesus, take away my anger at all times.