Jesus On Anger
JESUS ON ANGER
After spending 3 ½ hours enduring the long lines, surly clerks, and insane regulations at the Department of Motor Vehicles, a man stopped at a sporting goods store to pick up a gift for his son. The man decided on a baseball bat and he went up to the front to check out. The clerk asked him, “Cash or Charge?” Well, the man kind of snapped at the clerk, “Cash!” Then he realized how rude that was and so he apologized to the clerk and he explained, “I have just spent the whole afternoon at the Motor Vehicle Dept.” And the clerk responded, “Shall I gift wrap the bat…or are you going back there?”
Sometimes we do some pretty crazy things when we allow anger to control us.
- In fact, have you ever noticed that things get broken when people are angry?
- A tennis player gets angry and shatters their racquet.
- I saw a young man break a bone in his hand by punching a hole in a wall.
- In anger you slam the door and a picture falls off the way and shatters.
- Angry words break a heart…and ruin a relationship.
- A nation gets angry at a nation and the peace is broken.
- Church unity is broken by anger.
- Anger can be one of the most destructive things in our life.
Look at verse 20 here in chapter 5. Jesus says that “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
- Now in verses 21-48 Jesus gives us six examples of how our righteousness it to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees.
- And interestingly enough the first area that He mentions that our righteousness is to exceed the scribes and Pharisees in if we want to enter into the kingdom of heaven is the area of anger.
- Let’s look at this and see what Jesus has to say about anger. Let’s begin in vs. 21.
In vs. 21 Jesus refers to the 6th commandment that is found in Exodus 20:13 and He says, “You have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.”
- The people understood this and they knew better than to violate this commandment.
- But, look at the next verse because it gives you an idea of what the scribes and Pharisees were doing…look at vs. 22 again.
Jesus says, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
- These religious leaders wouldn’t murder anyone…they wouldn’t physically take someone’s life…but they felt justified in being angry with a brother, and showing contempt for a brother, and destroying them verbally.
- So their idea was, “Even though I harbor these harsh feelings I have still kept the commandment because I haven’t committed murder.”
- Their standard of judging themselves was not by what was in their heart…their standard of judging themselves was “what they did or didn’t do.”
Well, Jesus sets things straight…and He tells them that it is about what is in your heart… that if you harbor all these hard feelings toward a brother you are just as guilty before the court as you would be if you had murdered him.
- You see, the commandment condemns more than just the act of murder…it also condemns the spirit or attitude, the emotions of murder…and that is where our righteousness is to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees…you cannot harbor harsh feelings toward a brother or sister…have hatred in your heart… and enter the kingdom of heaven; 1 John 3:15.
- And the standard we are to judge ourselves by is not whether we murdered someone or not…the standard is how we feel, our thoughts, our attitude and emotions…the standard is what we have in our heart.
Now, look at verse 22 again…there seems to be a progression of anger here. Jesus says, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother…
- Not all “anger” is wrong; the Bible speaks of God’s anger which is always holy and pure.
- Jesus became angry with the Money Changers in the temple; John 2:14-16.
- Sometimes it is even necessary for people to express a righteous anger.
But notice again what Jesus says, “…everyone who is angry with his brother.”
- What Jesus seems to be referring to here is an anger that is not limited to the sin…we need to be angry about the sin…but this anger he speaks of here seems to be an anger that is hostile to the brother.
- In other words, “Hate the sin but don’t hate your brother.”
- How can you restore a brother back to righteousness if you hate him?
- So Jesus seems to be saying, “There is nothing wrong with a righteous anger…and anger over the sin…but don’t have an unrighteous anger…an anger that is based on pride, vanity, hatred, malice and revenge toward the person.
Now, look what Jesus says again, “…everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court…or subject to the judgment.”
- Is this a human court or is this the divine court?
- Jesus has to be talking about the divine court because only God can justly determine what is in the heart.
Now, notice what seems to be the progression of anger here.
- The first thing you do is you get angry…you harbor those harsh feelings…and before long they come out…you verbalize them. Look at the end of verse 22:
…and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court;
- Now the anger has verbalized itself!
- The word “’Raca”…it is not certain what it actually means…may come from a Hebrew word that means “empty headed”…”worthless.”
- It would be equivalent to calling someone a “nitwit…a moron…a numbskull…stupid”…an insult to their intelligence.
Some scholars think that this word originated from the sound of a person who is clearing their throat…”Raaaacah!”….that is what I think of you.
- The idea though is one of great contempt and insult.
So you start out with this silent anger…silent malice…and now it manifests itself in this contemptible and hateful speech…and Jesus says, “When you get to this point…you are guilty before the “supreme court.”
- In short…things are getting worse and worse.
And now, look at the end of verse 22: …and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
- There where Jesus says, “You fool”, that is the Hebrew word “more’” from which we get our word “moron.”
- In the O.T. this word was applied to those who denied the existence of God and who plunged into evil doing…an apostate….an outcast.
- Now, if a person denied the existence of God…if he was an apostate…where is he doomed for?
- You see, this was an expression of malice…of settled hatred…and could possibly be equated with telling someone to “Go to hell” and Jesus says here that the man who condemns his brother to hell is in danger of hell himself.
So, as you can see…anger is a dangerous thing.
- It can cause you to stand condemned as if though you have committed murder.
- And one of the things that Jesus is trying to tell us here is, “Don’t let this get started!”
- You let your righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees by stopping this before it ever gets this far.
- Yes, be angry about the sin…but don’t be hostile toward your brother or the person who has sinned against you.
Now, look at verses 23-26. Jesus gives us a practical application of the principles He has taught us.
- He has just taught us how serious and dangerous anger and insult are…and now He is going to tell us to avoid them like the plague and take action as quickly as possible.
- He is going to give us two illustrations…the first taken from going to the temple to offer sacrifices to God….the second from going to court to answer the charges of the accuser.
Now, notice as we read this that the first illustration concerns a “brother” and the second concerns an “opponent or enemy.”
- In both illustrations the basic situation is the same…somebody has a grievance against you…
- And the basic lesson is the same…take immediate, urgent action…
- Look what Jesus says starting in verse 23…”If therefore,”
- This “therefore” ties these verses with the consequences of having an angry spirit.
- If we are angry…of if our anger has caused someone else to be angry with us…look at what we are to do.
If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar (in the context of today we might say, “If you are in church, in the middle of a service of worship”), and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar (Leave church immediately), and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
- There is a sense of urgency in what Jesus says here.
- How can you profess your love to God while at the same time be estranged from your brother?
- Haven’t we been commanded to “love one another?”
- How can we have peace with God…when there is no peace with our brother?
Jesus’ instructions are to go and do all that is within your ability to be reconciled to your brother…you do all you can to erase the animosity…the hurt feelings…
- They may not respond in kind to our efforts…but more times than not they will…
- And then you come and worship God.
Worship becomes a sham if we have behaved so poorly prior to our coming to worship that we have knowingly hurt someone.
- Jesus says, “Settle things immediately.”
Now, vs. 25-26: “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 “Truly I say to you, you shall not come out of there, until you have paid up the last cent.
- In debtor’s prison, in order to get out, someone else would have to pay your debt because you can’t make money in prison.
- So Jesus says, “This is urgent business!”
- Settle matters first…reconcile your differences…resolve the hurt feelings and the unjust anger…don’t go before the judge with these feelings of hostility between you and another…because you will pay the full price for what is in your heart.
Jesus tells us that our righteousness is to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees if we are going to enter the kingdom of heaven.
- Most people will be able to stand before God and say that they have not murdered anyone.
- But, how many can say that they have never hated anyone or harbored anger and contempt for someone else?
- Jesus wants our hearts to be pure as well as our actions.
- I hope that if you are harboring hatred or anger toward a brother or sister in Christ…or if you know of a brother or sister that has something against you, that you will take the high road and do what you can to reconcile the problem.
- Harboring anger has devastating effects on your life, your relationship with God, and the lives of others.
- Do not let anger tear you apart, let it go, give it to God.
Let me close with two passages of scripture: 1 John 4:20-21
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
Heb 12:14-15 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023