Summary: Because anger is serious and dangerous it can wreck relationships. We should take action immediately to avoid it.
Relationships in the Kingdom – Part 1
Have you ever noticed how when people are angry, things tend to get broken.
As a teenager, my brother once stormed out of the house in an angry huff, slamming a door so hard that a window broke.
Once when playing racquetball, I got angry over making a bad shot and slammed by racket against the wall. Harder than I meant to, because my graphite racket broke.
A college friend of mine got into an angry disagreement with his girlfriend one night. In the morning he learned that after the fight she had gone into her room and broken a framed picture of him, by slamming it against her desk. (They’re happily married now, however most of their pictures are kept in rubber frames!)
Someone throws a punch and a nose gets broken.
In anger one nation lashes out against another and a pact or a treaty gets broken.
Express too much anger when disciplining a child, and trust gets broken.
Use angry words and perhaps a heart gets broken…
…Church unity gets broken…
…Relationships get broken.
As a matter of fact, angry outbursts ruin many relationships.
Jesus addresses this vital issue in His the Sermon on the Mount.
It’s been a few weeks since we looked at this last, but here is what we’ve learned…
Jesus is announcing God’s Kingdom is here on earth
He surprises people by telling them God approves of them in spite of their imperfections
Those who follow Him will be as distinctive as salt and light. They’ll stand out.
Because those in this Kingdom won’t attempt to be impressive just by obey rules – they will gain their good standing with God through a relationship with Jesus
In Matthew 5:20, He tells us that our righteousness needs to surpass that of those who look perfect on the outside. Because far from being satisfied with good appearances, God is looking for hearts that have been changed. And now He’s going to illustrate this kind of the heart in several ways.
It’s safe to the average American would consider himself/herself to have a good heart. You know to be a basically good person. A rather common line of reasoning that exists today in determining if we are good sounds something like this – “Well, I know I’m not perfect, but at least I’m not a murderer!”
As if murder is the line between good and bad – perhaps also assuming that murder is the point of no return. Once a person commits murder, they can never be considered a good person ever again.
That’s actually a very ancient way of thinking. (Ancient in the truest sense of the word). Because that appears to be exactly what some thought about what it meant to be a good person in Jesus day. I’m basically a good person. I haven’t murdered anyone.
Jesus says, whoa! Not so fast here. Give this some thought.
Jesus can’t assume everything his audience had heard concerning the content of the OT Scriptures was really in the OT. This is because the Pharisees and teachers of the law regarded certain oral traditions as equal authority with Scripture itself.
So he starts out by saying…
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder.’” (That’s in the OT. That’s commandment number 6 of the 10 Commandments. Do not murder…)
…And… (now here’s the oral tradition part) “…anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” That’s what had been handed down for years. If you murder, you are subject to judgment – in other words, you would be brought before the local courts.
The crowd on the mountain with Jesus would have been as familiar with that statement as they were with the simple command – “Do not murder.”
So here is what Jesus says…
“But I tell you, that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” (v. 21)
I. ANGER IS SERIOUS AND DANGEROUS (v. 21-22)
He describes anger here like a crescendo – it builds through three stages. The first stage…
1. Anger directed against another person
Anyone who is angry with his brother is subject to judgment. That is…worthy of the same consequence as murder
Because…Angry thoughts break the murder prohibition too.
How can this be?
Anger, in its simples form is a spontaneous response that has a vital function in life. It alerts us to an obstruction of our wills and immediately raises alarm and resistance, even before we have time to think about it.
Not all anger is bad – even Jesus got angry when people were having obstacles put in the way of their coming to God at the Temple – Bible talks of the wrath of God.