““You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that
• everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court;
• and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court;
• and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” – Matthew 5:21-22 NASB1995
What’s Jesus saying?
Scripture tells us to be angry, yet do not sin in our anger, giving the devil an opportunity (Ephesians 4:26-27). It tells us that the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20). Anger is the beginning, uncontrollable emotion that is the first step toward harming, or even killing the one anger settles on. It is the doorway by which Satan gets a stronghold that allows him to lead us away from God, bringing discord, bitterness, hate, and disunity: all of which are sin that does not accomplish any good.
2. Devaluation – “You good for nothing”
God created every person and poured Himself into His creation (Genesis 1-2). And God so loved the world that He gave (John 3:16). When we devalue what God values, it is sin, standing in opposition to God and making nothing of the gift of His Son. We are called to love as God loves, which includes pouring oneself into the lives of others out of love that has nothing to do with whether the good done to them is deserved by them (1 John 4; Matthew 5:43-48; Romans 12:9-21; 1 Corinthians 13). Failure to value others leads to a lack of appreciation for them. It leads to a lack of care and failure to give self for the benefit of others. We will not give the time of day, much less energy and resources to the benefit of those we do not value.
3. Murder – “You fool.”
Anger causes us in an instant to devalue a person, killing their mind, soul, spirit, and strength of identity with our words of insult and demoralization. We cooperate with the devil in killing the spirit (emotional stability) of a person when we belittle them, which is hate, by:
- stealing away their confidence and courage;
- killing their strength of character and stability of life; and
- destroying their growth into a mature, sound minded individual of worth and value.
So, what do we do when we realize we used anger as a weapon of destruction?
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.” – Matthew 5:23-26 NASB1995
God, the true Judge, hears the cry of the downtrodden and oppressed. So be quick to repent, first to God who causes us to realize our sin; then to those sinned against. Even children need to see a parent who is strong and brave enough to say, “I was in the wrong. I failed you, injured you, and I am truly sorry. Please forgive me and pray for God to help me do better.”
Once forgiveness is sought out, repent: change your ways to align with God and His ways. Find ways to correct others and express upset constructively, in ways that serve to build up, and not tear down. Remind the one your angry with of the good they possess as a person and the potential that is in them, encouraging them to be and do their best at every opportunity and in all times.
It’s not sin to be angry. It’s not sin to express one’s anger. Sin comes when anger is unjustified, or when the expression of it adds injury to insult that can lead to a type of death. Be angry when it’s rightly warranted, but sin not, and thereby close tight our doors against a devil who is roaming to and fro, ready to pounce on any given opportunity (1 Peter 5:8). Address issues of anger properly and life, made stronger, stable, and secure, will spring forth to build us up for God’s glory.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:6-11 NASB1995