“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire." Matthew 5:21-22
Think of the last time you got angry. What thoughts were racing through your mind? For most people, there are a mix of messages in our minds. It’s not uncommon for us to think, “I hate that person,” or to wish ill upon them. At the same time, part of us says, “I’m a Christian, I’m not supposed to explode.” So we work hard to refrain from screaming, saying hurtful words, punching a hand through a wall, throwing something, or horrifically, physically harming another person out of our anger.
Even if you restrained from acting out on your anger, what were you communicating by your behavior? Was there steam coming out your ears? Did you have an angry look on your face? Did you stomp around the house making sure everyone knew you were angry? Or, did you simply choose to give the offender the silent treatment.
In this passage, Jesus challenges us to look beyond our external behavior to the condition of our heart. It’s not OK to just curb your outward reaction while harboring sin your heart. All of those thoughts going through your mind and heart matter. The good news is that Jesus wants to make our hearts new. He does that by helping us to deal practically with what is happening in our hearts.
When we recognize that we are angry, we need to deal with the anger in our hearts by learning to forgive. Ephesians 4:30-32 says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” First, it involves the desire to please God and not to grieve Him. Holding onto our anger grieves Him. Second, it involves getting rid of our unhealthy thoughts, emotions and behaviors (bitterness, anger, wrath…) and replacing them with godly thoughts, emotions and behaviors (being kind, tenderhearted, forgiving…) We may have been wronged, disrespected or hurt, but we are still to forgive the offender in our hearts, release them from the debt, and then act lovingly from the heart towards them. We forgive them because that’s how Jesus forgave us, when we didn’t deserve it. I encourage you to allow Jesus to make your heart new, because of you have a heart like Jesus, you’ll have a walk like Jesus.
Father, thank you for forgiving me when I didn’t deserve it. Please continue to renew my mind and my heart so that I will live in a way that pleases you. Please forgive me for all the times I have not treated others well or I have thought wrong about them. Fill my heart with your love and forgiveness. Help me to be kind and tender-hearted toward each person who crosses my path today. Amen.
Posted on Mon, October 6, 2014
by Sam Petitfils