Summary: Lesson 4 in a series on the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon helps us get a handle on our anger.
Quick Sermons for Permanent Fixes Lesson 4
Fix Your Anger
We’re in lesson 4 of our series on the Sermon on the Mount. We’re talking about Quick Sermons for Permanent Fixes. Jesus challenges us to look long range and make real fixes in our lives instead of temporary, quick, easy fixes. We’ve talked about fixing our attitude, fixing our cape (showing who we really are), and fixing our righteousness. Even if none of the lessons before have challenged you, I think this one will. This morning we are going to look at what Jesus says about fixing our anger.
Do you know how many words we have for being angry? Here’s a partial list of the ones I came up with. Have you ever gotten enraged or exasperated? Furious or frustrated? Fed up, incensed, irked, irritated? Maybe you’ve been put out, steamed up, or ticked off. Surely you’ve just been plain old mad before.
It seems like there’s an awful lot to get angry about these days. Our dander gets up because of what somebody says or does. The tone of that kid was just a little sassy. That driver on the interstate is way too close. Bill Clinton seems up to his old tricks again.
But we don’t just get mad at people. I took a group of college students to Gatlinburg. As we were driving up to the place we were staying, one of the students commented, “Why is this mountain so steep?” Another said, “This stupid road is too curvy!” Maybe you’ve been in a hurry to get somewhere and your car wouldn’t start. Perhaps you launched into a tirade against that “hunk of junk,” or you tried to give that lousy, no good heap of scrap metal a good tongue lashing, but it still wouldn’t start.
Anger feels good. If feels good to “just go off on somebody,” “just really let them have it,” every once in a while. And let’s be honest, aren’t there some grudges that we like to hang onto?
Frederick Beuchner says “Of the seven deadly sins, anger is probably the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontation still to come, to save the last toothsome morsel of both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back - in many ways is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is you. The skeleton at the feast is you.”
Today we watch people get angry for entertainment. Think about how many movies involve someone being wronged and spending the entire movie getting even. Anyone willing to admit they’ve seen an episode of Jerry Springer? He promises at least one fight a show. No matter how much we may try to play it down, Jesus had some pretty strong words about anger.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ’You shall not murder,’ and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”
Your Bible may say the word kill there for murder, but clearly refers to murder, not just any killing. You cannot use this verse to oppose going to war or capital punishment. Jesus is speaking about the unlawful taking of another’s life. In the section of Scripture that we looked at last time Jesus said that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees and this is the first of six examples that He gives of just how our righteousness must exceed the Pharisees. If someone committed the act of murder, they were judged by the court and executed. But Jesus goes behind the act to the attitude that gives rise to it. While the court cannot judge the heart of a man, God can and does. When we harbor anger in our heart we are under God’s judgement.
These words are so harsh that many have sought to soften them. The words “without cause” are not in the original manuscripts. They are an attempt to understand what Jesus means. Surely it is okay to be angry when we are justified in being angry! That’s righteous indignation! But Jesus challenges us not to harbor anger against a brother – with or without cause. If we look at the text in its setting, that is what Jesus is talking about. It is never right to hold onto anger. It only causes trouble. We must guard our attitude. But Jesus goes on to include the words we say.
“And whoever says to his brother, ’Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ’You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.”