Summary: When you hold anger against another Christian or an unbeliever, you must take the first step to reconcile your relationship and bring peace between you and God again.
In my last post, I talked about how Jesus fulfills the law and how we become great in God’s kingdom. In this post, I discuss the next part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus deals with murder and anger.
Jesus’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount was revolutionary for its day, and ours. He shows key insight into the nature of humanity and shows us God’s expectations for us. The disciple of Jesus can learn more from Jesus anyone else.
It’s interesting how closely related anger and murder are. While many of us will read the Ten Commandments and we think we have violated none of them, Jesus internalizes murder into the emotion of anger. In our minds, we react to our anger with murderous rage.
The state a deeper look at this teaching of Jesus dealing with the commandment against murder and showing honesty inside ourselves that our anger plays out in our minds as murder. Let’s get started.
Examples of the Ten Commandments Internalized
After Jesus described Himself as fulfilling the law and the prophets, He gives examples of commandments and shows how they are outward behavior of the heart. While the Pharisees of His day, and asked if we look deep inside, would not admit to doing them, they were committing them on the inside.
Jesus uses part of His Sermon on the Mount to reinterpret these outer behaviors, as in our desires of the heart. We do well to examine our hearts as we read these parts of the Sermon on the Mount. Let us not commit the same error of the Pharisees in dismissing these teachings.
Jesus did not teach that we would be guilty of literally violating these commandments but that me may commit them on the inside in our minds and hearts. Most people have not murdered someone, but in their anger, they often imagine murderous results for the people they are angry with. So as we look at these teachings of Jesus, we must examine our hearts to make sure we don’t harbor such and desires for those we have in her four.
Murder on the inside (Matthew 5:21-26)
The Pharisees of Jesus’s day would not have read the Ten Commandments the way Jesus taught them. They interpreted them as literally as possible so they could say they had not physically committed them.
Like the rich young ruler, they had little trouble saying they had never violated these commandments. Of course, interpreting them in their most liberal fashion made this statement easy to declare. They interpreted the law by the letter rather than by its spirit.
We must not make the same mistake. You should not violate the literal laws of the Old Testament. But we must understand the spirit of the laws. God did not give them for the most literal interpretation so we could say we’ve never committed them.
It’s not about literal interpretations of commandments. It’s about examining our hearts to make sure we are not committing them on the inside against other people who God made in His image. We cannot say we worship the Lord when we violate His creatures.
Often when someone offends us, we’re not so careful to see how we violate God’s heart for our offenders. Like David, we go to God and ask Him to judge and destroy them. This is how we feel at the moment of the offense. God sees the people as ones who need His mercy rather than His judgment. Can we say we could come to the same conclusions?
When we see how Jesus teaches us to look on the inside of our hearts when we have these murderous thoughts, His teachings require us to focus on our relationship with Him instead of getting justice against those who offend us.
If we are honest with ourselves, our murderous thoughts, out of our anger and offense. How much more we understand the Holy Spirit trying to change us, to show us why Jesus had to come and die in our place? We don’t want to admit to the sins of how we treat His creatures. How often do we see ourselves, “I am offended because I see myself and my offender.”
Instead, we see ourselves as righteous, or at least having the righteousness of Christ. But we don’t realize we are self-righteous. Our old selfish nature is trying to overtake us again. But we must not let it. Self-examination in light of Jesus’s teachings on internalizing the Ten Commandments keeps us from allowing our sinful flesh back into our hearts.
Attacking Your Brother’s Character
Jesus references the sixth commandment found in Exodus 20:13. Some Christian scholars debate the difference between murder and killing. They suggest killing is not the same as murder. That’s a discussion for a different time.
Jesus did not lessen the fact of murder. We must see its stark definition for Jesus’s teaching to affect us. God will judge anyone who murders another person. God made each of us in His image, though we have tainted His image with our sin.
God does not hold us less accountable if we murder another. So, if we understand murder to ultimately result in anger, we must take it before Him. Whether we act on our anger or not, it affects our relationships. Even if we are thinking of violent actions we would never commit, the Holy Spirit sees our thoughts and heart, and He sees the action we dream of taking as much as the actions we take.
We may choose to take lesser actions, but they can have the same result. If we attack the character of another person, we commit a form of murder. Social murder. Who hasn’t wanted to blurt out there accusations and anger on Facebook or other social media platforms?
It’s even worse when we justify our actions and thoughts through our human ideals of justice. When we feel offended by someone, we seek to vindicate ourselves and get justice. The Bible teaches us not to take vengeance for ourselves (Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30, compare Deuteronomy 32:35; Psalm 94:1). Paul asks why we don’t just suffer the wrong against us (1 Corinthians 6:7).
Jesus gets to the heart and spirit of the law when He replaces murder with the volatile emotion of anger. Literal murder comes from a place of anger in the heart. God knows our thoughts, and when we mentally murder someone, to Him they are the same.
We don’t have a problem using words in place of our actions. We who would never murder another person willfully hurl insults at them. To God, these are just as inexcusable as our thoughts of murder. We hurl insults in our anger instead of hurling weapons against our offenders. We call them names. We label them as fools. It is not for us to judge others or label them. That is God’s right.
We do it from a limited perspective, while God has perfect perspective. One day, He will judge every person, even us, for violations of His perfect standards. We take God’s place when we make judgments and label people.
Reconciling with Your Brother
What shall we do if we have committed the murderous rage of anger against a brother or sister in Christ, or anyone else? Jesus doesn’t leave us with the feelings of guilt over our anger and what we have thought, said, or did with it.
He gives us actions to take to reconcile with them and bring peace. He gives us the example of our worship. We cannot worship God with thoughts of anger against others. Just as we can’t pray for our enemies while holding animosity toward them, we cannot worship God and ignore our anger toward others. They have God’s image in them and are His creations.
So Jesus tells us before we offer our gift at the altar we must reconcile with our brothers and sisters (Matthew 5:23-24). Before we can worship God with clear eyes and a clean heart, we must come to grips with our offenses. God’s Spirit will not be settled in our hearts until then. God knows all and sees all, and He is always with us. He knows our hearts. His will for peace in our lives will keep us from true worship until we reconcile our differences.
We should not ignore worship or decide not to worship because we cannot concentrate on the Lord. Jesus tells us reconciliation is our first order of business, and then we can worship. We cannot get out of it. God will not let us go until we reconcile. He is the God of peace, and He desires peace in our relationships.
We must come to terms with anyone who has offended us, or whom we have offended, before it comes to a matter of law. The Judge will see right through us. Unless we want the Lord to discipline us, we must make it a priority to have no anger or animosity toward anyone. This doesn’t mean we will not have peace until they forgive us. We must do our part. You can only ask for forgiveness. You cannot change a person’s heart. If they want to continue to have anger toward you, you have done your duty.
Reconciliation doesn’t always work between two people. Sometimes you will ask forgiveness and reconcile with your neighbor. But your neighbor decides to still have animosity toward you. There’s nothing you can do about the other person’s heart. As long as you have asked for forgiveness, you have done what you need to do to have peace with God. But make the first step toward peace.
Do you have anger issues with another believer or an unbeliever? Make the first step to bring reconciliation and peace to your relationship. You will not be able to pray or worship God until you do. At the very least, bring peace to your relationship with God.
We have covered so much ground in the Sermon on the Mount and have just talked about the first commandment where Jesus internalizes murder into anger. Next, we will discuss the commandment against adultery and lust.