Summary: This sermon tells how a Christian and the church should deal with anger
6th epiphany 2011
Dealing with Anger
We can do some crazy things when we allow our anger to take hold of us. Have you done things while you were angry that you wish you could take back? Anger can be one of the most destructive things in our life, especially if it is anger that is held inwardly against another person. Sometimes this anger can show in how we treat others as well.
Let me illustrate this.
After spending 3-1/2 hours enduring the long lines, the clerk’s repeated questions and insane regulations at the Department of Motor Vehicles, a man stopped at a toy store to pick up a gift for his son. He took his selection - a baseball bat - to the cash register. "Cash or charge?" the clerk asked. "Cash," he snapped. Then apologizing for his rudeness, he explained, "I have just spent the afternoon at the motor vehicle bureau." The clerk then asked sweetly "Shall I gift-wrap the bat? Or are you going back there?"
Today we are going to look at the devastating effects that anger can have on ourselves, on our worship of God and on other people. I have a theory. It goes something like this. Most of us know what we’re supposed to do, but we don’t always do it correctly. This is especially the case when it comes to conflict and anger. Most of us also have probably heard at least one sermon on this topic in their church life as well, but few put it into practice.
Before we get into the effects of anger that we want to look at, we need to look at what Jesus is trying to tell us in verse 21.
In verse 21 Jesus points to the sixth commandment that is found in Exodus 20:13. He says that the ancients were told thus and such. This means that Jesus is speaking of the commandment itself, not the interpretation of the commandment. It is also important that we know that there is a difference between “kill” and “murder” in the Biblical sense. To murder means to take a life with anger and premeditated thought, to kill would be to take a life in self defense or in a time of war.
Also Jesus in no way was changing the law of the Old Testament, He is just adding to its spiritual meaning. This is why you can never ever throw out the Old Testament, because Jesus in no way changed the law but merely fulfilled and further added to its meaning. Jesus’ own words was that He came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.
Going further into this passage, In Matthew 5: 23-24 we read some words that are simple to understand and yet so sharp that they’re bound to cut us: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” What Jesus is saying is this: Being reconciled is more important than being religious.
Let’s notice a few things here.
* Anger can wipe out our worship. The context of this passage has to do with anger: “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” We must be watchful of our words or else wrath will destroy us and destroy others. When we bring anger to the altar we can’t adore God. Isaiah 58:4 says: “Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.”
* Peacemaking is very personal. The pronouns change in this passage from the plural “you all” (or ‘y’all’ if you’re from the south or ‘youse guys’ if you’re from New Jersey) to “you” singular: “YOU have heard it said…but I tell YOU.” This message is not for the masses but for me and you.
* Friction in the family of God must be dealt with. The word “brother” is used four times in verses 22-24. As sons and daughters of the Father He desires holy harmony in His family.
But there are some steps to dealing with this anger and strife in your life and the life of the church.
* Make it right when God reminds you. It’s no accident that you are probably thinking about someone you are out of sorts with right now. Don’t dismiss the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit at work in your memory. Remembering is the first step to reconciliation. It’s God’s way of prompting you to be a peacemaker.
* Initiate reconciliation whether it’s your fault or not. It could be a legitimate gripe, or maybe it’s unfounded. It doesn’t really matter. If someone has a grudge against you, follow God’s nudge and do what you can to make it right.