Summary: God knows our tendency to struggle in the area of anger. His Word gives us some instruction in this matter. Let’s pay close attention so that we might honor God in all things – even in our anger.
Series: There’s an App for That
Matthew 5:21-26, 39, 43-48
In Lille, France, a woman became fed up with neighbors parking outside of her home blocking her gate. For weeks, she asked and pleaded with them to not do it. She woke up before dawn one morning to see a brand-new, gleaming, burgundy-colored vehicle parked in front of her gate. She decided that enough was enough.
With great glee, she scratched the paint with a wire brush. That wasn’t enough. She then poured several gallons of glossy paint over the car. Next, she slashed the tires. Deeply satisfied, she returned to bed.
Later that morning, her husband came in to wake her up. He wanted to show her the present he had bought her for their 10th anniversary: A brand new burgundy-colored car.
Anger is a huge problem in our society. One Christian psychologist commented that “anger management is a shockingly underdeveloped skill in our society.”
A little boy was trying to sell a worn-out lawnmower. A preacher walked up and the boy tried to persuade him to buy the mower. The preacher pulled on the rope several times to make sure the mower would start. Nothing happened – not even a spit or a sputter.
The boy told the preacher that he would have to kick the mower while saying a few cuss words before the motor would start/ The preacher said, “Son, I can’t do that. It’s been a lot of years since I said a cuss word.”
The little boy replied, “Just keep pulling that rope and it’ll come back to you.”
Most of us battle on a daily basis the temptation to lose our cool. It could be something so little as not being able to get the mower started. It could be frustration with a co-worker or boss. It could even be deep-seated anger at a parent or a spouse.
God knows our tendency to struggle in the area of anger. His Word gives us some instruction in this matter. Let’s pay close attention so that we might honor God in all things – even in our anger.
Anger is a Heart Problem
We’re going to do something a little different this morning. Take out your Bibles and turn to Matthew 5. We’re going to refer back to this passage several times this morning.
Matt. 5:21-22 – “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.”
Jesus gives the root cause of murder: it’s anger. It has to do with the attitude of my heart. The problem with murder is not just the physical act itself. It all starts with anger in my heart.
Jesus says, “I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” Jesus doesn’t just denounce the act of murder. He also denounces the attitude of anger in the heart.
Does Jesus forbid every kind of anger in this passage? No. Anger, in and of itself is not sinful. The Septuagint translation of Ps. 4:4 reads, “In your anger do not sin.” There is a righteous anger and an unrighteous anger. We can be angry and not sin. But if we cross the line, we can be angry and sin.
Righteous anger is upset over sin and injustice. It’s okay to be angry when you see the evil work of terrorists and people suffer from their malevolence. It’s okay to be angry when you hear about a child being abused or a woman being raped.
God gets angry. In the Old Testament, it mentions God’s wrath or anger 375 times. 82% of the time the Hebrew word for anger occurs in the Old Testament, it’s used in conjunction with God.
Jesus demonstrated righteous anger. In Mark 3, Jesus attended a synagogue service on the Sabbath. Also in attendance was a man with a paralyzed hand. The Jewish leaders were watching closely to see what Jesus would do. They were ready to express anger and indignation if Jesus did so.
Mk. 3:3-6 – Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.