Summary: Jesus is talking to His disciples on the mountain and this is the leadership lesson!- Get mad at someone and curse him and you go to hell! Wooh! How do you feel with this encouraging word so far?
Matthew 5 - Part 12 - AM I GOING TO HELL JUST FOR BEING ANGRY?
I have always wondered about the statement Jesus makes in Matthew 5:21-26. There are some pretty strong statements made like...
Murder someone and you’ll go to court but "if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!" (ie before a judge in court) If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell." (Matthew 5:21)
That’s pretty heavy stuff. Curse someone and go to hell! Anyone with a bad temper hasn’t got a chance! Murder someone and I expect to go to court but curse someone and go to hell seems to me to be a bit harsh, especially coming from the mouth of Jesus!
Jesus is talking to His disciples on the mountain and this is the leadership lesson! Get mad at someone and curse him and you go to hell! Wooh! How do you feel with this encouraging word so far?
The key words in this passage are Murder, Anger, Cursing. Murder I have no difficulty with and this all has to do with Jesus definition of murder. Jesus says anger is worse! Cursing someone is worse! What is he trying to say here, because if what He means in English is the same as what He’s trying to get across in the original language, then I’m in serious trouble, and so are you, no doubt. We in this together!
Some manuscripts (not the oldest and most reliable) add the words "angry with his brother WITHOUT A CAUSE", but that doesn’t help much either, if you still go to hell! Man, sometimes I’m just angy without a reason and anyone who gets in the road becomes a target! Sometimes they don’t even know it but other times they become, lets say....aware!
Maybe there is an out if you don’t have brothers. I don’t have any brothers so that lets me off the hook. Still, I get the sneaky suspicion that "brother" refers to someone close, not the literal one. In fact that’s how the term is used here. Anybody I am in relationship with can be a brother, so that doesn’t help me much.
So the overall topic is to do with MURDER. At least I don’t have a problem with this. Even the 10 Commandments says "you must not murder" (Exodus 20:13). Life is important to God. It is not to be taken, but considered to be a precious gift of God.
Jesus goes deeper. He says the problem is not just the outward act of murder, but the inward cause - anger. Jesus says we interpret this law on a superficial level, but we need to get the spirit of what God is really saying. Jesus always goes to the heart, and He’s more concerned with the inward causes such as anger, and other emotions that, at times, we allow to rule our lives. He’s saying that the real problem is living life according to an uncontrolled inner life. Anger expresses itself in all kinds of ways. In hatred and in slandering someone, road rage, jealousy, and stepping on someone elses happiness
So murder is obviously wrong but so are bad feelings against another person. Jesus says it’s not just small scale bad, it’s a serious sin.
I think Jesus is speaking about the kind of anger that lingers, and broods and refuses to forget, the kind of anger that hungers for revenge and sometimes actively seeks it. This is the kind of anger that is selfish and lasting, and has malice towards others. It’s a scary kind of emotion. It is the anger that carries with it a curse from hell.
The bible says "Be angry and sin not", but this is speaking of a justified anger, that is angry with sin, and it is never selfish and it is always disciplined and controlled. Jesus dealt with the money changers in the temple with this kind of anger (John 2:13-16).
So I think that the kind of anger here in this passage that Jesus speaks of is something that a Christian must not tolerate in his or her life. We are to deal with our anger quickly, otherwise it has consequences.
Ephesians 4:26-27 (NASB)
"BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity."
Colossians 3:8 (NLT) says that once you become a Christian...
"... now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behaviour, slander, and dirty language."
1 John 3:15 (NLT) carries the association with murder to say that if you have this kind of malicious lasting, unrepentant anger then you are not a Christian in the first place.