Summary: A sermon about living into controling our tempers.
I recently read a story about a woman who just had to have some Chicken McNuggets.
And so she went to her local McDonald’s and went and ordered a 10 piece McNuggets and as she ordered the McNuggets the person processed the order, rung up the bill, collected the money and put it away.
He was preparing her order, but when he went to the back to put the McNuggets in the bag he realized there were no McNuggets that were cooked.
And then he went searching for McNuggets and realized that there were no McNuggets in the entire restaurant.
Apparently McDonalds has a very strict policy of not giving refunds.
However, the guy went to the lady and said, “We do not have any McNuggets but I can give you something of equal value or even more---I will give you whatever you want to replace your Chicken McNuggets.”
But apparently this lady really wanted Chicken McNuggets and she was so upset, so irate that she did the only thing that she thought to be logical.
She pulled out her cell phone and she dialed 9-11!!!
And she began to tell the operator her situation.
And by the end of the day…
…when all was said and done…
…she never got a single McNugget, but she did get a ticket for improper use of the 9-11 system.
I doubt any of us have gone to McDonalds and called 9-11 over our order, but I bet all of us can relate with being so upset, so angry with something that we sort of lost our wits in dealing with the situation.
Our anger can overcome our rationality.
We can probably all identify with being angry with something not going our way.
Which is why this passage is so challenging for us.
…point blank says, “Do not be angry with your brother or sister.”
Now that is a very difficult and direct command!
Every morning we get out of bed there are lots of opportunities for us to get angry.
Perhaps we are running late for something, and our child is taking a long time getting dressed.
Maybe when we are running behind it always appears that we get stuck in a 45 mile an hour zone behind somebody going 15 miles an hour.
Or maybe you get caught in a traffic jam.
Or perhaps you’ll be tired in the evening and come home and the slightest thing seems to set you off.
It’s very difficult to never be angry with a brother or sister.
So what does Jesus mean in this passage by telling us to not be angry?
He goes on in this passage, after He explains not to murder…
… “anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment”…
…He goes on to say, in essence, “for instance I tell you don’t say bad things about other people.”
He says, “Don’t call other people a ‘fool.’”
Or He uses this phrase.
It’s an interesting phrase.
He says, “Don’t say someone else is empty headed.”
I don’t know if anyone has ever knocked on your head before and said, “Don’t be empty headed.”
But that is what Jesus is saying in this passage, “Don’t say somebody is empty-headed.”
Now, what is He trying to say?
I think when He is talking about anger…
…what Jesus realizes is that as we progress into the emotion of being angry and we begin to dwell on this we begin to look at other people as if they aren’t human.
Instead of calling a person by name we call them a “fool”!
And so in our anger we learn to dehumanize somebody, so that we can not just be angry with them…
…but we can actually grow to hate them!
But then Jesus says that if you do this to somebody you are in danger of the fires of hell.
Not only do we dehumanize other people with our anger, we dehumanize ourselves when we are angry with others.
In the book, If Grace is True…
…in one of the stories in the book the author tells about an Oprah Winfrey Show where they had a group of Nazis on the show.
And this group of Nazis were sharing about all the people that they hate.
And you can imagine that the audience was beginning to get worked up as these Nazis…
…one after another…
…were talking bad about other folks.
And then Oprah Winfrey did an interesting thing.
She allowed the people in the audience to begin to share their feelings of frustration and anger towards these Nazis.
And as the people in the audience began to hurl insults at these Nazis…
…finally one of the leaders of the Nazi group stood up and said, “I’m glad we all can agree on something.”