Why the bumper sticker, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven” could be a ticket to Hell.

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May 9, 2014

Matthew 5:21-22 (in context)

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 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.

 CONSIDER THIS. . .

Are we really paying attention here? Do we really believe this?

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

Nothing destroys people and relationships and community more than does anger. Nothing stamps out love more than anger. Master Yoda nailed it. 

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.

Get your copy of Wesley’s Sermons on the Sermon on the Mount HERE. Use the code DAILYTEXT for a 25% discount. 

J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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