[Jesus said] “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.”
Curb Your Anger
It sounds a little harsh, doesn’t it? Being angry with someone is enough to merit God’s judgment. You can understand the first part: You shall not murder. And if you do murder, then yes, there should be judgment. But judgment for anger? How do you keep from being angry? And why does anger earn God’s judgment?
This section of the Bible is part of a sermon Jesus preached called “The Sermon on the Mount.” In this sermon, Jesus gets to the root of God’s laws. God’s laws don’t just require perfect outward action like not murdering, but also perfect inward action like curbing angry thoughts and feelings.
Anger is the gateway to resentment and hatred. And if you harbor resentment towards someone, it means you’re not forgiving them. And if your hate festers unchecked in your heart, it means you are not loving.
God wants you to see others the way he sees others. He desires that you treat others with respect and love and not view people as receptacles of your anger and scorn. He doesn’t want you to nurse grudges so that every time you see someone who slighted you in the past, you only see red.
And so, Jesus goes back to the root of God’s law. It starts with thoughts and attitudes and controlling anger.
The one truly justified in his anger is God. He has every right to be angry with sinners. But instead of taking out his wrath on us, God poured it out on his Son, Jesus. And Jesus willingly took that anger and wrath to change the lives of his people all the way to their roots.
Freed from their sins, God’s people can let go of anger and resentment and forgive instead. Believers can get rid of hate and choose to love because the harsh but justified penalty for sin has been removed by Jesus.
Dear Jesus, thank you for taking God’s anger in my place. Help me to show the love that you have shown me. Amen.
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