Summary: Anger can be a good thing and serve good purposes. It is a God-given emotion. However, it has a destructive side to it that can hurt people and hinder your relationship with God. Jesus gives the grace to deal with it!
Matthew 5:21-26 21 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, 'is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. 25 "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
1. What lies beneath
Matthew 5:21-22 21 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.
-Anger is an automatic spontaneous response to having our will hindered or our life interfered with. In this sense it is not wrong. Anger is a feeling that grabs us physically and moves us immediately toward interfering with and possibly even harming those who interfering with us. Anger itself is often used to manipulate others since it often wounds them to simply know you are angry with them. Angry people raise the stress level of everyone around them, and sometimes we get angry in return because their anger is interfering with our life.
-So the primary function of anger is to alert me to the fact that something is obstructing my will, immediately raising alarm and resistance before I can even think about it. This is a normal God-given function, but it can quickly become something dark and evil.
-Once we begin to direct anger at a person, there is some level of malice involved. That’s why we don’t like it when someone is angry with us. We know that they wish us some level of harm- even if only emotionally. They want us to get out of their way and will make life unpleasant for us until we do.
-Jesus alluded to 1 of the 10 commandments, Thou shall not kill (murder). But Jesus went a little deeper than the action of taking someone’s life. He brought to surface the attitude of the heart that can lead to such an unthinkable action.
-Anger is generally the root cause of murder. Many murders are committed out of rage and hatred for another person. Jesus is going back to the heart of the issue and instead of saying, “Thou shalt not murder, He says, “Control the anger that leads to violence.”
-Anger can be a good thing and serve good purposes. It is a God-given emotion. However, it has a destructive side to it that can hurt people and hinder your relationship with God.
-So being angry can create problems, but venting anger with words or actions, giving in to the beast it can become will create some serious problems as well.
2. The Escalation of Anger
Matthew 5:22 … anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, 'is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Anger/Contempt/Pure Malice/Murder – Unresolved anger becomes a premeditated act of the will. There seems to be a progression or levels of anger that can lead to bigger problems and cause more damage to all parties.
-“Raca” was an Aramaic word that was used to express contempt for someone and mark them out as contemptible. When I’m angry I want you to hurt. When I feel contempt I don’t care whether you are hurt or not. I have disregard for your feelings b/c you have interfered with my life. In contempt, (raca), I deny the worth of the person I am angry with. Apparently this kind of offense could land you in front of the Sanhedrin.
-The issue here is what we call the sanctity of human life. Man was made in God’s image, and as such, every human being possesses value and has worth. Genesis 1:26-27 26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…”. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.