Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. -Mark Twain
Matthew 21-22, “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! 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.”
- Have you ever been angry at someone? I mean, really angry. What happened in the situation? Did your anger subside? Did you forgive them? Or did you let the anger burn and now you are harboring feelings of bitterness and hate? Jesus tells us in these verses that anger is murder. How is that? Anger can turn to hate and hate is a direct opposition to the love that Jesus teaches. Romans 13:10 says, “Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” If we are not loving, we are hating. Unholy anger can lead to sin. Just because we are not committing the outward act of murder doesn’t mean that we are not sinning. When we are truly angry we are committing murder in our hearts. If our anger is not kept in check, it could lead to the outward act of murder. Warren Wiersbe explains that “anger is such a foolish thing. Sinful anger robs us of fellowship with God as well as with our brothers, but it does not put us into jail as murderers.”
- When we have anger in our hearts and we do not get rid of it, that can cause us to use words of hatred toward one another. Jesus says that calling someone an “idiot” (Raca in Aramaic) or cursing them comes from the mouth as hatred from the heart. “Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart.” (1 John 3:15)
Matthew 5:23-26, “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.”
- How can we come to God and ask forgiveness for our sins if we are holding out on forgiveness for others? Right here Jesus is telling us that we need to find those who we have differences and anger with and reconcile so we can be reconciled with God. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:26-27, “And don’t sin by letting anger control you.Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” If we don’t go to that person as soon as we should, we will let that anger stew in our hearts until it becomes hate and it will be easier to give in to the devil.
- John MacArthur tells us, “Obviously we cannot change another person’s heart or attitude, but our desire and effort should be to close the breach as much as is possible from our side and to hold no anger ourselves even if the other person does. Regardless of who is responsible for the break in relationship-and often there is guilt on both sides-we should determine to make a reconciliation before we come before God to worship.”
- Jesus commands us to quickly settle anger and malice with another. When we ignore it or pass it off, it genuinely imprisons us (David Guzik). The custom in Jesus’ day was if you couldn’t pay your debt you would have to go to prison and if nobody came to pay your debt, you would die there. This can happen to our hearts if we are not careful. Irreconcilable differences can put your heart in bondage and slowly lead you into the pit of hatred.
- Romans 12:18 says, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Only God can give you true peace. Trust him to lead you out of the depths of anger and hate.
Friends, I encourage you to give your hatred, bitterness, and anger to the Lord. He can turn a heart of stone into a heart of joy and love. Turn away from your hatred, forgive those who have wronged you, and live peaceably with others.
Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”