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The Many Sides of Anger (Matthew 5:21-26)

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“The Many Sides of Anger”

(Matthew 5:21-26)

Series: God’s Fulfilled Promise [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

September 30, 2018

Introductory Comments:

Have you ever been really angry with someone? (Don’t raise your hand)

Perhaps you were so angry with someone that you felt like you could just kill them. Then, you catch yourself and you say to yourself, “I can’t kill that person! That’s a sin to murder!”

Well, that’s a good thought to have, you shouldn’t kill anyone out of anger. However, Jesus pushes us farther on this issue of anger. He challenges us not only on the sinfulness of murder but also on the sinfulness of anger itself. 

Let’s look at today’s passage together as we discover the many sides of anger. 

Read the Passage 

Read Matthew 5:21-26

21 “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. 22 But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire. 23 So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Reach a settlement quickly with your adversary while you’re on the way with him to the court, or your adversary will hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny.

Let’s pray together.

(Prayer)

We are continuing our study of Jesus’ sermon on the mountainside: one of the most famous sermons in history. 

Jesus has just finished telling us in verses 17-20 that we must live an ultra-righteous life in order to get into the kingdom of heaven, which points us to our great need for Him and for His righteousness. 

Now, Jesus begins a series of statements that follow this format: “You have heard it said . . . but I say.”  

In these statements, Jesus is acknowledging the teaching of the Jewish law on a matter, and then He is adding to that commandment, or clarifying it, or explaining what was really at the heart of it. 

So, again, Jesus is not doing away with the law. He is fulfilling it Himself and explaining it for His followers! He’s saying that it needs to be obeyed in a fuller way. 

So, in this passage, Jesus speaks to us about anger. 

We’ll see three sides of anger in this passage. 

First, we see that . . . 

I. Anger can be evil (vv. 21-22) [on screen]

Jesus says in verses 21 and 22, “You have heard that it was said . . . do not murder . . . but I tell you everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment.”

There was no doubt among the hearers of Jesus that murder was evil, but Jesus introduces this new concept that anger can also be evil. 

This would have probably been surprising to the hearers of Jesus, and it’s probably surprising to many of us today. 

We have no problem understanding that murder is evil, sinful, and worthy of judgment. 

But to say that anger is worthy of judgment, well, Jesus is taking this a little too far, isn’t He?

Jesus carries it further. 

He says, if you insult your brother or sister, you will be subject to the court, meaning you will be guilty. 

Then he says, “whoever says, ‘You fool,’” will be subject to Hellfire. Whoa! Hellfire!

This term, Hellfire, is from the word Gehenna, which referred to a trash dump outside of Jerusalem that was continually burning. Jesus said the judgment that we could experience if we give ourselves to anger and insulting could be like a continual fire that burns up trash. That’s intense!

Just as murder is sinful because it is a physical violation of someone created in the image of God, so also, insulting is sinful because it is a verbal violation of someone created in the image of God.  

How is this possible? How is this the case? How can anger possibly be considered as sinful as murder?

First, let’s make a clarification: Jesus didn’t say that murder and anger were the same. He said that they were both worthy of judgment. 

Just to be clear, I’d rather all of you get angry at me than have just one of you murder me. 

Jesus’ point is that anger should not be overlooked as innocent. It is evil. 

Well, why is anger evil?

This is a tricky question, particularly when we see that Jesus was angry at points in His ministry. 

You might say, “Jesus had righteous anger.”

We must remember this, church: none of us are Jesus! So, we should be very careful to say that our anger is righteous anger. 

Jesus’ anger was an identification of the sin of others and out of a heart devoted to repentance and the pursuit of holiness for the person to whom His anger was directed. 

Our anger opens the door and allows sin to come into our hearts, which leads us to more sin, including insulting, denigrating name-calling, and at times, even physical harm. Our anger is usually selfish, and vengeful, and full of hate. This is sinful. 

Although this may seem insignificant to us, it is not insignificant to God. 

So, how do you view your anger? We should fear our anger because it could lead to judgment. That is, it could indicate that we are not truly followers of God and His ways. 

If we claim to follow Jesus, we must truly follow Jesus, including His commands to flee anger and insult. 

We must pursue holiness not only in our actions but also in our hearts. 

Second, we must see that . . .

II. Anger can be reconciled (v. 23-24) [on screen]

Let’s look at verses 23 and 24 again. 

23 So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

Jesus says to reconcile an issue with your brother or sister. 

There is hope, and even an expectation, that anger can be reconciled between others. 

Jesus believes so highly in this reconciliation that He actually instructs us to pause our worship of God in order for us to make things right between us and someone else. 

Think about the implications of that. God is worthy of worship more than anyone in all the universe! Yet, we are to put that on hold in order to resolve anger with another human being. 

Of course, when Jesus says “your brother or sister,” He doesn’t mean only your literal brother or sister. He means basically other people with whom we have interaction. 

If we have anger, or if we are aware of someone having anger towards us, we are to seek to make that right. We are to seek to fix the issue. 

Oh, that we would get this! This would solve so many issues in the world if we just sought to work things out. 

Reconciliation and the resolution of anger between two people made in the image of God are utterly important to God. 

This is something that we should not only intentionally seek to do, but we should work at very hard. 

It’s not always easy to make things right with someone, but we should keep trying and keep trying because it is so important to God. 

Notice that Jesus doesn’t say anything about who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong. When it comes to imperfection and sinfulness, we’re all in the wrong!

We’re completely unrighteous without Jesus! We need His forgiveness and His righteousness, which should lead us to pursue forgiveness and righteousness in our relationships with others. 

You might say, “Pastor, this is not easy!” I know! I know it’s not easy! Who told you it was easy to live for God? It’s not easy because although we’ve been set free from sin and set free to live a righteous life, we are still cocooned by the sinfulness and unrighteousness of the world and those around us, and we personally still carry with us the residue of sin. 

However, because we have been reconciled to God, we must fight to also be reconciled to others. 

If we claim to love God, but we don’t love other people, we are deceiving ourselves. 

Part of God’s vision for our church is to love the church and love others, not be angry with the church and angry with others. We are to love, and forgive, and seek to make things right with others. 

Finally, . . .

III. Anger can have consequences (v. 25-26) [on screen]

Look again at verses 25 and 26. 

25 Reach a settlement quickly with your adversary while you’re on the way with him to the court, or your adversary will hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny.

What Jesus is getting at in verses 25 and 26 is that it is always better to work things out with someone without going before a judge, whether a human judge or God, the Holy Judge.

A judge will examine us to see if there is guilt within us, and if so, we will be punished. 

It’s always easier to make things right yourself with someone else before a judge has to do so. 

Again, this is true both on a practical level and on a spiritual level. 

Notice how severe the punishment will be. Jesus says, “you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny.”

Let’s think of an earthly example. Let’s say that you’re a high school student who is on an athletic team or a member of the band, and you have a disagreement with another member of the team or band. If you take care of it yourselves and work it out, your coach or band director may never even know about it. However, if you don’t work it out and things get bad and have to go before the coach or director, things could get ugly. You could be punished in some way, including maybe even being kicked off the team or out of the band. 

The same can be true in family relationships, the workplace, and certainly in the church. It’s always easier for people to work things out in humility and love, rather than to take it to the next level. 

The longer you wait to make things right the worse the situation can become. 

Avoid anger, seek to make things right, and seek to do so as soon as possible so things don’t get worse. 

Concluding Thoughts:

Ultimately, the issue of anger comes down to our relationship with God. 

Remember, Jesus classifies anger as sin deserving of judgment. 

Furthermore, Jesus tells us that it’s very important to heal our anger towards other humans. 

God is serious about anger and He is serious about His followers pursuing godliness. 

You have heard it said, “do not murder,” but Jesus tells us, He is also serious about the sinfulness that anger can cause. 

Bottom Line: We should deal with our anger, before God deals with our anger.  [on screen]

(repeat)

Anger is a sin that separates us from other humans and can also separate us from God. 

If we have sin in our hearts, be it from anger or murder, God is not pleased with us. 

We must go to God, through Jesus Christ, and repent of our anger.

Jesus can set us free from any sin!

We must follow God faithfully and fully. 

Challenge yourself this week in the following ways. 

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Describe any anger that you have in your heart at this time.  [on screen]

Write it down or tell it to a trusted friend. 

Do you get angry with certain people? Maybe you even label them an idiot, moron, or whatever. 

Be completely honest. Admit your sin before God and before others if necessary.

Don’t leave it there, also . . . 

  1. Deal with any anger that you have in your heart at this time.  [on screen]

Ask God to guide you with His Holy Spirit. 

Ask someone to forgive you. Offer forgiveness towards someone else. 

Sin is serious, we must deal with it.

You can do this, by the power of God. Don’t be afraid. 

Unresolved anger is like spiritual cancer in your heart, so don’t let it stay there. 

Closing:

As we close, I want to remind us that Jesus lays out the law of God and many of us feel, rightly so, that we cannot possibly fulfill what Jesus requires. That’s the point, on our own we cannot please God. That’s why we need Jesus.

Turn to Jesus and live for Him now. Live for Him in all aspects of your life. He wants all of you. Give yourself to Him and be made new. 

He wants you devoted to Him in your actions and your heart. 

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Benediction:

If you have any sort of spiritual decision that you would like to make, you can contact me or Pastor Richard and we would be glad to talk to you anytime.

I hope to see you back here tonight at 5:30 PM for our series, “An Expedition in the Bible.” We are looking at the letters of Paul right now. I think you’ll enjoy it and learn something. 

Also, we have lunch plans already, church. We have dinner on the grounds, right now over the fellowship hall, so join us over there after we dismiss. 

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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