Summary: Facing the consequences of our anger.
WHERE’S THE LINE? We talk like murder is the line, but Jesus says anger is the line.
- The line is the line for judgment.
- We like to justify ourselves with “I’m not perfect, but at least I’m not a murderer.” I may not be flawless, but the line for “bad people” and “bad behavior” is way, way over there and I’m not anywhere near that bad.
- Anger is a dangerous thing.
- Anger causes things to get broken: golf clubs, relationships, hearts, church unity.
- Now, I’ve heard people misquote this passage and say that Jesus said that being angry with someone makes you a murderer. Or that being angry with someone is the same as murdering them.
- He doesn’t say that. What He’s saying is that murder is not the line of judgment – anger is the line.
- I’ve also heard people say that if you’re angry with someone that that’s worthy of hell. Notice that’s also not what He says. He notes levels of judgment – some human, some divine.
- Not all anger is wrong. There are times when we see evil and we should be righteously angry.
- A man abuses a little girl. A corporate chief destroys his employees’ pensions but rides off into the sunset with a $100 million golden parachute. A woman destroys the character of a pastor through her lying gossip.
- Jesus here is speaking of the anger we normally have that has unjustified reasons.
- Patrick Morley says that he thinks most anger has origins in two things: selfishness and impatience. I’m not getting what I want or things aren’t happening as quickly as I want. He’s probably right and both of those are petty reasons to be anger.
RUNNING DOWN THE ROAD: Anger is usually progressive, moving from anger to contempt to malice.
- Matthew 5:22.
- Anger makes it easy for us to move deeper and deeper into emotions and thoughts that we shouldn’t be having.
- 1 John 4:20-21 – loving God but hating brother doesn’t add up.
- Everyday garden-variety anger.
- “Raca” does not have a direct translation in the English, so it just gets transliterated. It may be that it sounds like that because it’s the sound you make when you’re clearing your throat to spit.
- “You fool” doesn’t really have a lot of harshness to it in our culture. The Greek work here is moros, from which we get the word “moron.” This is more serious that “raca” and involves scorning someone’s character.
DEAD END AHEAD: Because anger is progressive, we have to be quick to reconcile.
A. Smaller interpersonal issues.
- vv. 23-24.
- This is not just a story about what to do at church. I think Jesus uses the church example in order to say, “Look – this is even more important that being at a worship service!”
- Don’t think that God hears you when you’re relationships with people aren’t right.
- A detail that we have to note here is that Jesus says “if your brother has something against you.” That’s a harder situation than when I feel the anger in the sense that at least when I feel the anger I feel like it’s my problem. Here He says even if it’s the other guy who’s feeling the anger.
B. Larger business issues.
- vv. 25-26.
- Here Jesus points us to larger issues – in this case a pending lawsuit.
- Have you ever heard someone say that they know they should resolve the situation, but they are so mad at the other person that they don’t want to give them the satisfaction?