April 11, 2016
21 “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.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will 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.
Are we really paying attention here? Do we really believe this—that anger is the seed of murder—that so many of us carry murder around in our heart all the time?
Do you have “anger fantasies”? You know what I’m talking about. Someone does something to offend you or slight you or otherwise cross you. Rather than approaching the person to attempt to repair the relationship you instead nurse the embryonic seed of anger. Soon it reaches a point where you begin to script out scenarios in your mind where you, filled with righteous indignation, let them have it. You put them in their place. You give them a piece of your mind and take them down a notch. Entertaining an anger fantasy is like a taking a hit on an emotional crack pipe. It animates a dark source of power deep within. It feels strangely good.
Jesus teaches us that anger is the very pathway to destruction, damnation and hell.
Are we really paying attention here? Do we really believe this?
The great problem with the followers of Jesus in this present age is we are content to put a bumper sticker on our car that says, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” We excuse our anger and lust and dark emotions in the name of grace. Jesus seems to take it a lot more seriously. He’s waving his arms here with some of the direst warnings in all of Scripture.
And what’s most fascinating about Jesus teaching is it presupposes no outward action. We want to define sin as an outward act. Jesus says different. Sin is a deep disposition of the heart. Wesley captures it in his earlier reflection on meekness in this sobering sentence.
Our Lord here ranks under the head of murder, even that anger which goes no farther than the heart; which does not show itself by an outward unkindness, no, not so much as a passionate word. p.26
He nails it with this diagnosis. There was a time in my life when anger held a death grip on me. The interesting thing is the people around me would have never known it. It took an enormous amount of energy to hold my anger at bay. I spent a lot of time on anger fantasy island. It’s another story, but through a process of healing and deliverance I was set free. Praise God!
Why does Jesus speak so emphatically? Because anger is soul cancer. Nothing destroys people and relationships and community more than does anger. Nothing stamps out love more than anger. Master Yoda nailed it. “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Do you have anger issues? Anger management is not the answer. Start with simple, gut-level, honest, out-loud confession to Jesus. Ask him to help you identify where that anger is coming from. He will help you.
1. So how about you? Do you harbor an angry spirit just under the surface of things?
2. Do you find yourself angry at things you aren’t really angry about—that points to something deeper within you?
3. Understand, anger is a normal human emotion. It’s what we do with it that turns it into danger. What might be a way you can interrupt the inner turn toward nursing the anger and see that moved in another direction? Start with Come Holy Spirit! ;0)
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.