Walking in the Words of the Master – Part 3.1 Attitudes toward Anger

Matthew 5:21 – 26 This portion is going to come out in several blogs as it is too big a bite to try to chew all at once. Stay tuned for the entire series “Attitudes on Anger”

Today I’ll talk about verse 21 and the first half of verse 22.

“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;  Matthew 5:21-22a

Anger is a prevalent problem in our society; it seems everyone is angry. Drivers on the highway are angry, wives are angry, husbands are angry, children are angry with parents, parents with children, at the work place everyone is angry, store clerks and shoppers are all angry. All the political talk show hosts are angry and encourage their listeners to be angry.

My daughter works for a medical supply company as a Medicare billing specialist.  The other day a client called her and was angry because he thought he had been over billed.  Even when she explained the billing process to him and that his bill was correct he was still extremely angry. He began to use foul language and threats with her.  He threatened to destroy the equipment he was renting or to leave the state and take it with him.  She eventually had to hang up on him to shut down the anger.

I’m not going to delve into why people are angry, that is for another blog and for someone with more psychology under their belt than I have.  I could give some opinions as to what causes anger; hurt, failed expectations or unforgiveness to name a few.  But Jesus didn’t address the root of the anger in this passage only the anger, its consequences and how to deal with it so that is where I’ll stay too.
The Ancients said “Thou shalt Not Kill” that is number six of the “Big Ten” (Exodus 2:13.)  The Master, as He was known to do, took it a step further.  Jesus applied the same standard to the thought or the feeling as had been applied to the action.  Jesus said if you are angry you shall also be guilty before the court.  Why are our thoughts as damming as our actions?
Have you ever become so instantly angry that you about couldn’t control it?  I know I have, a word or an action from someone and bang instant anger.  How can that even be controlled?  I believe the answer to being able to control anger and the reason Jesus elevated it to the same degree as the act of murder are both found in the same source. Jesus said, “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”  Matthew 12:34.  Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees in this passage and calling them to account for their wickedness.  But herein lies the key to why anger is wrong and also how to control it.
The reason that anger should not be allowed in us is because it will eventually seep out. “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”  If it is in your heart it WILL come out your mouth. If you are thinking it then it is part of your psyche and it will eventually make its way to the surface.  Anger is one of those things that grows in dark places. Anger breeds anger, the more we have in our hearts the more it will grow and grow and grow.  Anger that is allowed to take root in our hearts will show its ugly head at a time and place when we least want it to.   Unexplainable anger over a little tiny thing is the result of unchecked anger in our hearts.  Anger will destroy and cause as much hurt as murder itself.
Anger, even that spark of unexplained anger, is a flame that has to be as instantly extinguished. Just like stomping out a coal that flies from the campfire so anger needs to be stomped out quickly.  Forgiveness has to be asked for and the anger cannot be allowed to be dwelt on, or fed and fanned to a flame that will burn us and everyone around us. Jesus got to the root of the problem in elevating anger to the same level as murder, because that is where it starts and it can and will cause as much damage.
What are your thoughts on controlling anger and not allowing it to take hold in our hearts?
Grace and Peace
Watch for the continuation of Attitudes toward Anger. A question for later in the series. 
 “Does calling someone a fool really merit hell fire?”

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