Summary: Anger! That insidious emotion that, if not submitted to Christ, can cause us much trouble. Jesus teaches us to be a person of peace in both our actions and our words.
This morning we will be looking at Matthew 5:21-26
If you do not have a Bible the Scripture passage is printed on the back of the bulletin insert.
I want to tell you a little story about myself. Several years ago we had enrolled our boys in a pre-school near our church offices in Johannesburg. They loved the school and the staff members were awesome (one was from Kansas).
Just after we enrolled them we ran into some church problems. My associate pastor began going from house to house teaching a doctrine that Christ had not come in the flesh. He was teaching that Christ had some kind of special body that was not human. He was leading people astray from true Christian doctrine and he was undermining my responsibility of shepherding the flock by turning people against me.
When I began to put the pieces of this thing together I quickly did what had to be done. I fired him from his job and excommunicated him from our assembly. I then taught for a few Sundays on the dual nature of Christ (human/divine) and asked all who agreed with this teaching to stay. If they did not believe it they were free to go. We lost about 30 people who went with my former associate to start another church and they were meeting in a building next door to my children’s preschool.
One day I was in the office and got a call from the school. They asked me to quickly come because some people were at the gate asking for my boys to be sent out to go home with them. I had not given anyone permission to get the boys. By the time I got there, the people were gone but the principle described them too me. It was my former associate and some of the former church members.
Needless to say I was livid. That might even be putting it mildly. It was one thing to threaten the church but to attempt taking my children was something entirely different. I got in my car and drove. The longer I drove the angrier I became. By the time I reached my former associates apartment I was - in all reality - ready to kill him.
I walked up to the door - kicked it in - went in the apartment and drug him out. The more he resisted the more murderous I became in my heart. I had already thought through how to break his neck and I was prepared to do it.
But somewhere in the middle of all this the Holy Spirit brought me to my senses. I released the man from my grip. Told him that I would let the police know what he was up to and then I left.
If it had not been for God - I would have killed the man and would probably be in jail to this day.
(TRANSITION) Have you ever been that angry?
It does not take much to get angry. We human beings have been given the capacity to be angry. In many cases if were not for the Lord or someone restraining us our anger may have led us down a horrible path.
But anger can also be very sneaky. Someone ticks us off. At first we just play it off like its no big deal but in our mind and heart we are already thinking about how we will get our revenge. Then our attitude toward that person changes. Whenever we see them our blood pressure goes up a bit and we begin hoping this is the moment we can get back at them.
Eventually, if we do not get control of ourselves, we start thinking that it would be good if that person were just dead. Sure, we may never physically kill them but we kill them in other ways - gossip, manipulation, slander - off the cuff remarks making them look small or dumb or uninformed to others.
(TRANSITION) Jesus tells us that we, as believers in Him, have to surpass the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. These religious people taught that only the actual murder of someone was wrong. BUT JESUS TELLS US THAT MURDER - REVENGE - ANGER is a much more serious offense.
If you remember last week we talked about how Jesus came to fulfill The Law and the Prophets. He often corrected the teachers of the Law for their misinterpretation of God’s commands. In the passages we just read Jesus is trying to correct people’s thinking about what “thou shalt not kill” means.
I want to look at one paragraph at a time this morning - let’s read Matthew 5:21-22
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.