Cursing Your Brother

This entry is part 63 of 81 in the series Inquiring Minds
Image by Simon Wijers from Pixabay

What does the Bible mean when it tells us not to be angry or curse our brothers and sisters? It says we are also cursing Christ. Is this just for Christians or any human being (brothers and sisters)?

After searching the Scriptures for a while, I’m not sure exactly which passage this question refers to. So I will attempt to answer it from every angle I can find in the Scriptures. First off talking about cursing your brother and then about anger and hating your brother.

“Brother” can refer to either a Christian brother or sister in Christ, someone who is also part of God’s family. But it can also refer to a biological sibling. In Israel, it could refer to any other Israelite. So “brother” has a wide range of meaning throughout the New Testament.

Cursing Your Brother

In Matthew 5:21-24, Jesus has been internalizing the Old Testament laws. Where the laws of Moses were mainly outward, Jesus has been dealing with the source of those physical reactions. He raises the issue of murder but transitions to the reason for murder, anger.

Then he gives examples of the kind of anger that God is displeased with. He mentions anger with a brother, insulting a brother, and calling a brother a fool (Matthew 5:22). The penalties for such outbursts of anger are varied from judgment to hellfire.

Even with the context, the brother here could be a brother in Christ, a fellow Israelite for those listening, and a biological sibling cannot be ignored. Because Jesus is speaking in the Sermon on the Mount, it is most likely a brother or sister in Christ.

The point is clear. Anger with our brothers and sisters in Christ is not the way of Jesus. There are various penalties for our anger. We may be angry with someone and not do anything about it. But the moment that we allow our anger to flow out into these actions, we have committed sin. We are held to a higher standard.

Hating Your Brother

In 1 John 2:9, John tells us that anyone who hates his brother walks in darkness and his eyes are blinded to the light. He basically says that hating one another, especially fellow Christians, is blindness toward God’s goodness because of the darkness of his heart.

1 John 3:15 also mentions hating one’s brother. John is referring to Christian brothers and sisters when he talks about hating your brother as murder. He is probably drawling on the relationship between Cain and Abel. But it is also a reference to the Sermon on the Mount.

James 3:10 tells us that we cannot curse and bless with the same tongue. Colossians 3:8 links anger with the things we say with our mouths. Jesus reminds us that what comes out of our mouths comes from our hearts (Matthew 15:18-20).

Anger is a natural emotion. Our emotions can be strong and volatile. But they can also be controlled. Anger turns into sin when we improperly act on it. To curse someone in any way, become violent toward them, or even treat them contrary to Jesus’ teachings becomes sin.

We must make amends with a brother or sister that angers us. Jesus has called us to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) and reconcilers (2 Corinthians 5:18). We are on the same team even though we don’t always agree.

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