For the next few days we will look at each of the examples that Jesus uses to describe the guidelines that God has given to His followers. The first example is found in Matthew 5:21-26. The focus of this blog is verses 21 through 22: 21 “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.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. 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. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
So what do you think? Does that sound a bit too harsh? Do you think that anger is really that big of a deal? Apparently Jesus thinks that anger is a pretty big deal. In fact, there are many verses in the Bible that warn us about anger. We need to be very careful about anger. In fact, we need to seek to let God eliminate anger from our lives. And He can do it! God desires that His followers live in close and uninhibited relationship with one another. Our relationships with one another greatly affect our relationship with God. Please don’t let anger run free in your life. Let God remove it and reap the benefits of an “anger-free” life.
I know that some of you are thinking, “But what about righteous anger?” Be very, very careful about that. When someone is doing something that is against what God says, what good does your “anger” about it do? Wouldn’t it be better to quietly and humbly speak to that person about it? Or, wouldn’t it be better to consistently pray about the person or situation? Really, what benefit is your “righteous anger” toward someone else? In my experience, “righteous anger” often leads to “wrong action”. I think there are many more productive emotions about the danger of sin than anger. I’d like to hear your thoughts about it if you are willing to share.
I am one who thinks righteous anger is acceptable as long as we do not sin out of that anger. In verse 22 above, it does say “without cause” Also, the Bible says “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Anger is an emotion that we cannot prevent. Sinning out of that anger is where we give the devil a foothold.
I also think there are two types of anger. A human anger and a Godly anger. The Bible speaks of God being angry and we know God does not do anything wrong, He cannot.
Our anger towards sin and evil can spur us onto Godly, appropriate actions such as prayer against sin in our lives or the lives of others; or as in Isaiah 1:17 to “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” or in Proverbs 31:8-9 where it tells us to “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
When we respond appropriately to our anger, it can be a witness to those people around us. People are watching. We can lose our temper, or we can respond calmly and with love.
The emotion of anger in itself is not a sin and you cannot prevent that emotion from sometimes creeping up in your life. It is more how you respond out of your anger that can be the sin. Anger brought under the submission of Christ can do great things for people but will also, always, lead us to act appropriately.
I, too, would love to hear more thoughts on this if people are willing to share. It’s a very interesting subject to me. I really enjoy hearing other points of view on it.